Family and Community Effects on Health and Well-Being in Los Angeles and the United States

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Principal Investigator: Anne Pebley

Individuals’ and groups’ behavior, health, and well-being is affected by the physical and social environments that they live in. Public health research suggests that neighborhoods and communities in which people live have substantial effects on diet, obesity, exercise, crime, violent behavior, and children’s development.  Yet the specific mechanisms through which these effects do or do not occur remain opaque or untested in many cases. Furthermore, much of this research has taken place in mid-western or eastern cities in the US, but other urban areas in the US have different physical and social environments, such as Los Angeles, where these associations may be different. For these reasons, we launched the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A.FANS) based on a representative sample of 3,100 Los Angeles County households clustered in 65 census tracts in Los Angeles (see www.lasurvey.rand.org). We have interviewed respondents three times since 2000 (in 2000-2001, 2006-2008, and 2012) and collected extensive data on individual, family and household, and neighborhood characteristics, including detailed health information. L.A.FANS follows and interviews respondents from the sampled census tracts in the second and third wave whether or not they remain in the same neighborhood. To date, research based on L.A.FANS has shown, among other things, that neighborhood physical disorder is significantly associated with children developing behavior problems, that income inequality is an important determinant of children’s reading and math achievement, that the social gradient in health and health behaviors is weaker than that for other ethnic groups in the US, and that the neighborhood food resource environment is associated with how well adults control diabetes and other chronic diseases. L.A.FANS is designed to be comparable with a number of nationally representative surveys in the US and most of our research involves comparison of results for Los Angeles and the US as a whole. 

Project Staff

Rachel Veerman
(310) 825-5935
rveerman [at] ucla.edu