The black-white gap in low birth weight in the United States remains large and mostly unexplained. We explore the relationship between racial residential segregation and black and white birth weights and how it changed between 1970 and 2010. We find the negative relationship between segregation and black birth outcomes emerges after 1980. Maternal socioeconomic status and behaviors account for 29–40 percent of the effect of segregation between 2000 and 2010. Single motherhood and mother’s education, and unobservable factors that load onto these variables, play important and increasing roles. After controlling for MSA and parent characteristics, segregation explains 15–21 percent of the raw black-white gap in low birth weight between 2000 and 2010. Download working paper version here
Recommended citation: Gregory T. Niemesh and Katharine Shester. (2020) “Racial Residential Segregation and Black Low Birth Weight, 1970-2010”, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Forthcoming.