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Journal Article

Difficult life events, selective migration and spatial inequalities in mental health in the UK


Publication date

May 2015


Research has indicated that people moving towards
neighbourhoods with disadvantaged socio-economic status have poor health, in
particular mental health, but the reasons for this are unclear. This study aims
to assess why people moving towards more socio-economically deprived areas have
poor mental health. It focuses upon the role of difficult life events that may
both trigger moves and damage mental health. This study investigates how mental
health and socio-spatial patterns of mobility vary between people moving
following difficult life events and for other reasons.
Longitudinal analysis of British Household Panel Survey data
describing adults’ moves between annual survey waves, pooled over ten years,
1996-2006 (N=122,892 observations). Respondents were defined as ‘difficult life
event movers’ if they had experienced relationship breakdown, housing
eviction/repossession, or job loss between waves. Respondents were categorised
as moving to more or less deprived quintiles using their Census Area Statistic
residential ward Carstairs score. Mental health was indicated by self-reported
mental health problems. Binary logistic regression models of weighted data were
adjusted for age, sex, education and social class.
The migration rate over one year was 8.5%; 14.1% of movers
had experienced a difficult life event during this time period. Adjusted
regression model odds of mental health problems among difficult life event
movers were 1.67 (95% CI 1.35-2.07) relative to other movers. Odds of difficult
life events movers, compared to other movers, moving to a less deprived area,
relative to an area with a similar level of deprivation, were 0.70 (95% CI
0.58-0.84). Odds of mental health problems among difficult life event movers
relocating to more deprived areas were highly elevated at 2.40 (95% CI
1.63-3.53), relative to stayers.
Difficult life events may influence health selective
patterns of migration and socio-spatial trajectories, reducing moves to less
deprived neighbourhoods among people with mental illness.

Published in








Area Effects, Migration, Well Being, Health, Life Course Analysis, and Housing Market


Open Access journal; © 2015 Tunstall et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited


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