Connecting past to present: Examining different approaches to linking historical redlining to present day health inequities

Clemens Noelke, Michael Outrich, Mikyung Baek, Jason Reece, Theresa L. Osypuk, Nancy McArdle, Robert W. Ressler, Dolores Acevedo-Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In the 1930's, the Home Owner Loan Corporation (HOLC) drafted maps to quantify variation in real estate credit risk across US city neighborhoods. The letter grades and associated risk ratings assigned to neighborhoods discriminated against those with black, lower class, or immigrant residents and benefitted affluent white neighborhoods. An emerging literature has begun linking current individual and community health effects to government redlining, but each study faces the same measurement problem: HOLC graded area boundaries and neighborhood boundaries in present-day health datasets do not match. Previous studies have taken different approaches to classify present day neighborhoods (census tracts) in terms of historical HOLC grades. This study reviews these approaches, examines empirically how different classifications fare in terms of predictive validity, and derives a predictively optimal present-day neighborhood redlining classification for neighborhood and health research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0267606
JournalPloS one
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (grant 71192) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (grant P3036220). The sponsors played no role in study design, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of the manuscript, or submission for publication. There was no additional external funding received for this study.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Noelke et al.


  • Cities
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Health Inequities
  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Residence Characteristics

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Journal Article


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