The Health Impacts of Eviction: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health

Working paper number: 
2021-64
Paper Abstract: 
Eviction represents an urgent social and economic issue in the United States, with nearly two million evictions occurring annually in the U.S. Still, the population health impacts of evictions, as well as the pathways linking eviction to health, are not well documented or understood, particularly among young adults. Using nationally-representative, longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (1994-2008) (n=9,029), the present study uses a combination of analytic methods—including prospective lagged dependent variable regression models, inverse probabilities of treatment weighting, longitudinal first difference models, causal mediation techniques—to comprehensively assess whether and how evictions relate to depressive risk and self-rated health across early adulthood, paying particular attention to the stress-related pathways linking eviction and health. Results provide robust evidence of positive longitudinal associations between eviction and depressive risk, in particular. In the prospective regression models, young adults who experienced recent eviction had more depressive symptoms and worse self-rated health than those who were not evicted, net a host of background characteristics. Using treatment weighting techniques, results showed that young adults who experienced eviction had more depressive symptoms than those who were not evicted (5.921 vs. 4.998 depressive symptoms, p=0.003). Perceived social stress mediated nearly 18 percent of the associations between eviction and the depressive symptoms (p<0.001). In the first difference models, young people who experienced eviction between survey waves experienced greater increases in depressive symptoms over time compared to those who were not evicted, net of changes in other indicators of socioeconomic status and residential instability. Taken together, our results suggest that the recent surges in evictions in the U.S. serve as a potent threat to population health during the emerging adult period, with especially devastating consequences for low-income individuals and communities of color.