Community Effects on Disaster-Related Mortality: The Case of the 1995 Chicago Heatwave

Christopher Browning, Ohio State University
Danielle Wallace, University of Chicago
Seth L. Feinberg, Montana State University
Kathleen A. Cagney, University of Chicago

The 1995 Chicago heatwave killed hundreds of older urban residents. We combine 1990 census, 1995 mortality, and 1995 Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods data to explore the social etiology of differential community-level heatwave vulnerability. Using multilevel count models we (1) estimate excess heatwave death across neighborhoods for four race-sex groupings of residents over age 59; (2) explore neighborhood structure effects on excess death; and (3) examine whether neighborhood social organization (collective efficacy; social networks; and disorder) independently explain excess death variation and account for neighborhood structural effects on this outcome. Results indicate that poverty predicts excess death rates across neighborhoods for all groups except black women. Residential stability predicts excess death for whites. Social disorder explains half of the poverty effects and 20% of residential stability effects on white excess death. Disorder is associated with excess death for black women but not men.

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Presented in Session 151: Community and Contextual Effects on Health and Mortality II