Racial-ethnic segregation has been suggested to be a factor affecting health outcomes, but its impacts have not been consistent across different studies (Kramer and Hogue, 2009; Williams and Collins, 2001). Inconsistent results from those studies may be attributable to the fact that the typical approach to measuring segregation fails to account for the fact that racial-ethnic groups may be spatially separated due to socioeconomic factors other than racial-ethnic differences. Particularly, the mechanism and outcomes of the housing market in sorting population spatially have to be accounted for. In addition, relationships between segregation and health have not been evaluated over time.
Given that one of the concerned aspects is health outcomes, individual-level data like the NILS data are needed. The longitudinal nature of NILS is critical to evaluate if and how the relationship between segregation and health change over time. To control for socioeconomic factors (in which house value is a very effective indicator) when measuring racial-ethnic segregation, it is also preferable to use individual-level data such that separation between racial-ethnic groups is evaluated only between population groups with similar socioeconomic status.
The NILS data linked with the census data for the Belfast metropolitan area will be used to study changing cultural-religious segregation and health conditions among the protestant and catholic groups between 2001 and 2011. The linked data with Census and house value (Properties Table) data are ideal for this study. House value variables at the individual level can be used as controls to ensure that only populations groups of similar socioeconomic status are compared.