Historical redlining associated with higher rate of firearm fatalities

Historical redlining associated with higher rate of firearm fatalities

Abstract: https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M23-2496    

Editorial: https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M24-0870  

URL goes live when the embargo lifts      

An analysis of neighborhoods historically designated as low-rated for creditworthiness (known as “redlining”) in more than 200 U.S. cities found that these neighborhoods experienced a much higher rate of nonsuicide firearm fatalities between 2014 and 2022. The analysis is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed historical maps of neighborhoods created by the federally-funded Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), an organization that graded neighborhoods as eligible for receiving housing and insurance services based, in part, on the percentage makeup of “foreign-born,” “Negro,” “infiltration,” and “relief families.” This practice excluded persons in these demographic designations from receiving housing and insurance services. The authors found that these historically-defined neighborhoods experienced disparate rates of nonsuicide firearm deaths between 2014 and 2022. In areas designated “hazardous” 80 years ago, firearm fatalities are nearly 6 times more likely to occur today than in areas designated “best.” However, the authors note that results demonstrate heterogeneity across the country, such that not all cities exhibit equal inequities in gun violence related to HOLC area.

In an accompanying editorial, authors from the University of Pennsylvania emphasize that while research related to firearm injury is very important, they wonder if further comparisons of HOLC maps with firearm violence will offer new and useful insights to researchers, policymakers, and community activists working to reduce firearm violence. They suggest that researchers should use HOLC maps not merely as a basis for research, treating history as an independent variable, but rather as an evidence-based backdrop that fundamentally alters our perception and understanding of the contemporary experience of individuals most affected by firearm violence exposure, and of the places inundated day in and day out by its hazards.

Media contacts: For an embargoed PDF, please contact Angela Collom at [email protected]. To speak with the corresponding author, Ayesha Dholakia, MD, please contact Boston Children’s Hospital Media Relations at [email protected].

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