There have been mixed findings on whether residential (spatial) age segregation causes better or worse health in older adults. These inconsistencies can possibly be attributed to two limitations in the previous studies. First, many studies have used statistical age composition to indicate the residential age segregation in a community, but this statistic does not consider the spatial arrangement of the residents. Second, many national scale studies have focused on averaged (or global) associations between age segregation and senior health and have assumed that these associations represent the situation in every part of a country. Little attention has been paid to local patterns of such association in different places. To address these previously identified limitations, we calculated a spatially explicit age segregation index for each United States (US) city to replace the conventional age composition index. We derived data regarding 92,560 respondents aged 65 and above in 185 US urban areas from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). We then examined global and local associations between spatial age segregation and the self-rated health of older adults across US cities. Our multilevel global analysis suggested that older adults living in age-segregated metropolitan areas experienced more mentally unhealthy days. On the other hand, the local regression analysis identified local clusters of positive associations between the age segregation and the elderly’s overall health status in western and southern metropolitan areas, but no significant associations in midwestern and northeastern cities. In short, we advocated for the use of a spatially explicit approach to deepen the understanding of the association between age segregation and senior health. The new age segregation metric and new analytic approach can offer new insights into the ongoing debate regarding aging in place.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited