Does it matter where we live? Possible causalities of neighborhood effects

Postdoc researcher Lasse Tarkiainen studies whether there are causal effects in between neighbourhoods and health risks of habitants. He utilizes Finnish register data and pseudo-experimental research designs to approach the research problem.

Urban Academy partner cities Espoo, Helsinki and Vantaa are funding postdoctoral researcher posts in urban studies at Aalto University and University of Helsinki for the period 2018-2023. The research themes are selected in collaboration with the cities so that they support strategic development and planning of the cities.

Urban Academy asked researchers to share their thoughts about their research and interests. Lasse Tarkiainen has a PhD in Sociology/Demography from the University of Helsinki in 2016. For the current postdoc position his interests lie in identifying the effects of neighborhood characteristics on the health risks and socioeconomic outcomes of the residents.

1. What are you studying and what are the main characteristics of your research?

My research topics relate to social and contextual determinants of health and mortality, as well as other outcomes like educational attainment. Most of my prior work deal with health inequalities between urban residential areas. Currently I examine whether neighborhood deprivation has negative effects on school performance of adolescents in Finland. It is well known that verifying the causal relationships of neighborhood effects is quite difficult, but I aim to identify possible causal effects using Finnish register data and pseudo-experimental research designs.

2. What has inspired you recently?

Usually I’ll rely more on perspiration than inspiration but listening to lectures from completely other scientific field always refreshes one’s views.

What kind of impact do you wish that your research has on the society?

Producing knowledge to support well informed decision making is one of the ultimate goals.

Can you name a city or cities that have played important role in your life?

After a small calculation I figured that I’ve lived 52% of my life in Vantaa, 44% in Helsinki and 4% in big cities abroad. But I guess all these three ingredients have been equally important.