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Early Child Development, Residential Crowding, and Commute Time in 8 US States, 2010-2017.



To examine relationships of residential crowding and commute time with early child development.


We used the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a teacher-reported, population-health measure of child development. The sample included child-level observations spanning 8 US states from 2010 to 2017 (n = 185 012), aggregated to the census tract (n= 2793), stratified by percentage of households in poverty. To test the association of commute times, crowding, and child development, we tested overall readiness and 5 EDI domains by using adjusted census tract-level multivariate regression with fixed effects.


In the full sample, a 1-standard-deviation increase in crowding was associated with 0.064- and 0.084-point decreases in mean score for cognitive development and communication skills, respectively. For the high-poverty subsample, a 1-standard deviation increase in commute time was associated with 0.081- and 0.066-point decreases in social competence and emotional maturity.


In neighborhoods with increased crowding or commute time, early child development suffers.

Policy implications

This study suggests a potential relationship between the changing urban landscape and child health. Children would benefit from more multisector collaboration between urban planning and public health.

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