Gentrification, Neighborhood Change, and Population Health: a Systematic Review


Despite a proliferation of research on neighborhood effects on health, how neighborhood economic development, in the form of gentrification, affects health and well-being in the USA is poorly understood, and no systematic assessment of the potential health impacts has been conducted. Further, we know little about whether health impacts differ for residents of neighborhoods undergoing gentrification versus urban development, or other forms of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent. We followed current guidelines for systematic reviews and present data on the study characteristics of the 22 empirical articles that met our inclusion criteria and were published on associations between gentrification, and similar but differently termed processes (e.g., urban regeneration, urban development, neighborhood upgrading), and health published between 2000 and 2018. Our results show that impacts on health vary by outcome assessed, exposure measurement, the larger context-specific determinants of neighborhood change, and analysis decisions including which reference and treatment groups to examine. Studies of the health impacts of gentrification, urban development, and urban regeneration describe similar processes, and synthesis and comparison of their results helps bridge differing theoretical approaches to this emerging research. Our article helps to inform the debate on the impacts of gentrification and urban development for health and suggests that these neighborhood change processes likely have both detrimental and beneficial effects on health. Given the influence of place on health and the trend of increasing gentrification and urban development in many American cities, we discuss how future research can approach understanding and researching the impacts of these processes for population health.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Jackelyn Hwang for her review of the search terms. This research was supported by a grant from the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness Dissertation Award.

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Schnake-Mahl, A.S., Jahn, J.L., Subramanian, S. et al. Gentrification, Neighborhood Change, and Population Health: a Systematic Review. J Urban Health (2020).

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  • Gentrification
  • Urban development
  • Health
  • Urban health
  • Systematic review
  • Neighborhood
  • Social determinants of health