Sociology Colloquium | Geoffrey Wodtke | Toxic Neighborhoods: The Effects of Concentrated Poverty and Environmental Lead Contamination on Early Childhood Development
As part of the Spring 2022 Sociology Colloquium, the Department of Sociology, invites you to attend the event Toxic Neighborhoods: The Effects of Concentrated Poverty and Environmental Lead Contamination on Early Childhood Development by guest speaker Geoffrey Wodtke hosted by Peter Rich.
Toxic Neighborhoods: The Effects of Concentrated Poverty and Environmental Lead Contamination on Early Childhood Development
Although socioeconomic disparities in cognitive ability emerge early in the life course, most research on the consequences of living in a disadvantaged neighborhood focuses on school-age children or adolescents. In this study, we outline and test a theoretical model of neighborhood effects on cognitive development during early childhood that highlights the mediating role of environmental health hazards, and in particular, exposure to neurotoxic lead. To evaluate this model, we follow 1,266 children in Chicago from birth through the time of school entry, tracking their areal risk of lead exposure and the socioeconomic composition of their neighborhoods over time. We then estimate the joint effects of neighborhood poverty and environmental lead contamination on receptive vocabulary ability. We find that sustained exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods reduces vocabulary skills during early childhood and that this effect operates through a causal mechanism involving lead contamination.
Geoffrey Wodtke is Associate Professor at the University of Chicago. His research is in the areas of neighborhood effects and urban poverty, group conflict and racial attitudes, class structure and income inequality, and methods of causal inference in observational research. He is currently working on several projects dealing with the impact of neighborhood poverty on child development, the link between private business ownership and growing income inequality, and new methods for estimating causal effects in longitudinal studies. His previous work on these topics has been published in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Demography, and Sociological Methodology, among other outlets. Wodtke completed his PhD in Sociology at the University of Michigan in 2014, where he also earned his MA in statistics.
This event is sponsored by the Department of Sociology and co-sponsored, by the Brooks School of Public Policy, and the Center for the Study of Inequality.