Bauer - The Center for Geographic Analysis, Harvard University

Disparities in Access to Income-Related Social Service Agencies
Scott R. Bauer
Michael Monuteaux
ScD ,
Eric Fleegler MD
of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health;
Divisions of Clinical Research2 and Emergency Medicine3 at Children’s Hospital Boston; Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Supported by grants from The Office of Child Advocacy at Children’s Hospital Boston
• EVALUATE the distribution of agencies
providing income-related social services
relative to populations in need within the
Boston area
Figure 2. Areas of Zero Access Relative to A) Unemployment, B) Poverty,
C-E) Distribution of Race/Ethnicity
Figure 1. Income-related Agency Density
• IDENTIFY disparities in access among
populations with different
socioeconomic status or racial/ethnic
• GUIDE future planning of income
security agency locations with evidence
based on need indicators and existing
geographic access
The Online Advocate:
• Social service agency database
• Agencies contacted to update and
confirm location and services provided
Income Security Agency Density:
• Income-related Social Service Agencies
defined as those providing direct income
support and/or job training
• Created agency density surface using
point density estimation of geo-coded
agency locations
• Adjusted for population living below the
federal poverty line (FPL) in each Census
Block Group (BG)
• Data source: The Online Advocate
Need indicators:
• % of population living below FPL
• % of population unemployed
• Data sources: 2000 Census, MassGIS,
Boston Atlas
Geographical Information System (GIS)
• Applied point density estimation to
calculate average geographic access to
agencies per BG
• Compared geographic access among BGs
defined by need indicators, neighborhood
boundaries, or racial/ethnic demographics
Table 1. Income-related Social Service Agency Maldistribution and Associated
Population Characteristics at Census Block Group Level
>2 Agencies /sqmi per 100
population below FPL
Total Number of Agencies
0-2 Agencies /sqmi per 100 0 Agencies/sqmi/ per 100
population below FPL
population below FPL
223,735 (39.8)
189,610 (33.8)
Population (% Total)
148,409 (26.4)
Population Below FPL (% Total)
24,866 (16.8)
51,212 (22.9)
31,810 (16.8)
Number of Census Block Groups
Population Characteristics
Number Unemployed (% Total)
6,994 (4.7)
8,474 (3.8)
5,335 (2.8 )
Number of Poor Blacks (%)
8,413 (27.4)
13,992 (45.6)
8,310 (27.1)
Number of Poor Hispanics (%)
5,110 (20.0)
14,090 (55.2)
6,315 (24.8)
Number of Poor Whites (%)
8,432 (21.0)
18,720 (46.6)
13,018 (32.4 )
* Poverty-Adjusted Agency Density = # Income-related Social Service Agencies per square mile per 100 population below Federal Poverty Level
**FPL= Federal Poverty Level (Annual income for a family of 4 under $13,359 in 2000 or $21,954 in 2009)
• Income-related Social Service Agencies are
unevenly distributed in the Boston area
• Many Census Block Groups (BGs) with a large
population living below the Federal Poverty Line
(FPL) have the little or no geographic access to
income-related social services
• Among populations living below FPL, geographic
access was relatively similar across BGs with
different racial/ethnic composition
• Some neighborhoods have especially limited
access to resources despite a large population in

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