Stephen A. Matthews

Stephen A. Matthews
Pennsylvania State University | Penn State · Departments of Sociology & Criminology, Anthropology (Courtesy in Geography and School of International Affairs)

B.Sc (Geog), Ph.D. (Planning)

About

160
Publications
19,234
Reads
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4,322
Citations
Introduction
I am a transdisciplinary scholar, trained in quantitative geography and planning, and Liberal Arts Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Demography (courtesy Geography and School of International Affairs) at Penn State. The central tenets of my teaching and research scholarship are population health and health inequality in community contexts. The Discipline list from RG is next to useless. I am trained as a Geographer and work as a Demographer and Sociologist.
Additional affiliations
July 1994 - present
Pennsylvania State University
Position
  • Managing Director
Description
  • Liberal Arts Professor (since 2018) of Sociology Anthropology, Demography & Geography; Professor (2014-17); Associate Professor with tenure (2010-14) ; Associate Professor (not tenured 2005-10); GIA Core Director (1995-2010)
September 1989 - June 1994
University of California, Los Angeles
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Education
July 1986 - September 1989
University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST)/ University of Wales, Cardiff
Field of study
  • Town Planning
October 1982 - June 1985
University of Bristol
Field of study
  • Geography

Publications

Publications (160)
Article
Full-text available
This research article focuses on the coupling of geographic information system (GIS) technologies with ethnographic data, an approach we refer to as geo-ethnography. The data used here were gathered in an ongoing, multi-site study of low-income families and their children. Throughout our work, the goals have been to think creatively about how GIS c...
Article
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This article addresses an aspect of racial residential segregation that has been largely ignored in prior work: the issue of geographic scale. In some metropolitan areas, racial groups are segregated over large regions, with predominately white regions, predominately black regions, and so on, whereas in other areas, the separation of racial groups...
Article
Exposure science has developed rapidly and there is an increasing call for greater precision in the measurement of individual exposures across space and time. Social science interest in an individual’s environmental exposure, broadly conceived, has arguably been quite limited conceptually and methodologically. Indeed, in social science, we appear t...
Article
This study examined relationships among individual demographics, environmental features (e.g., fast food outlet density, park land use) of residential neighborhoods and activity spaces, and weight-related behaviors (diet, physical activity). Participants' movement was tracked for 7 days using global positioning systems (GPS). Two activity space mea...
Article
My intent has been to show that long before we adopted multilevel modeling software from their initial applications in the neatly nested world of education (pupils within classrooms within schools), sociological studies had revealed the complexity of cities, how people used cities to meet their daily needs, and thus raised questions about the salie...
Article
Introduction To examine the heterogeneity of the associations between social determinants and COVID-19 fully vaccinated rate. Methods This study proposes three multiscale dimensions of spatial process, including “level of influence” (the percentage of population affected by a certain determinant across the entire area), “scalability” (the spatial...
Article
Southern European studies of migrants’ spatial distribution within metropolitan cities (MCs) are increasingly relevant to understanding residential segregation and marginalisation, particularly of foreign nationals. This paper leverages original and partially unpublished data to examine overall and foreign national specific segregation over two dec...
Article
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Objectives: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is the first point of service for the people who are in critical condition and in need of urgent health care. In Iran, as in other countries, people in need of emergency services often die or are left with a permanent injury due to the poor EMS-related infrastructure. It has been shown that a detailed e...
Article
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Pre-hospital care is provided by emergency medical services (EMS) staff, the initial health care providers at the scene of disaster. This study aimed to describe the characteristics of EMS callers and space-time distribution of emergency requests in a large urban area. Descriptive thematic maps of EMS requests were created using an empirical Bayesi...
Preprint
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Background: Timeliness of emergency medical services (EMS) is critical for patient survival. Identifying optimal locations for ambulance vehicles could increase the chance of timely service delivery. This study incorporates Geographical Information Systems (GIS) with a mathematical optimization technique to improve the 5-minute coverage of EMS dema...
Article
We examine two mechanisms–social capital and socio-behavior–potentially linking unemployment rates to opioid-related mortality and investigate whether the mechanisms differ geographically by the pace of the opioid crisis. Applying path analysis techniques to 2015–2017 opioid-related mortality in U.S. counties (N=2,648), we find that (1) high unempl...
Article
The use of face masks during a pandemic and compliance with state and local mandates has been a divisive issue in the United States. We document variation in face masking violation rates involving police enforcement in New York City and examine the association between police-enforced face masking violations and COVID-19-related death rates. We asse...
Article
Social capital provides important health, economic, and community benefits. While there are several types of social capital, that which is characterized by connections between diverse individuals from different social groups is thought to be particularly valuable. Despite the fact that both socio-demographic diversity and social capital exhibit sig...
Article
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Urban spatial inequality is multidimensional and complex. The extant literature identifies three main theoretically‐informed dimensions of spatial inequality – accessibility, environmental conditions, and socioeconomic conditions. We combine geospatial data on measures across these three theoretical dimensions to derive a composite index for the ci...
Article
Since the early 1990s, persistently low fertility in Mediterranean countries has attracted the interest of empirical research aimed at identifying factors associated with demographic change in what were traditionally high-fertility contexts. Most of these studies have been carried out at the national scale, while spatial analyses of sub-national pa...
Article
Fertility is a key process shaping long-term population dynamics. Distinctive fertility trends have characterized demographic transitions, exhibiting sequential periods of spatial convergence and divergence. This descriptive study investigates the spatiotemporal evolution of Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR) at different geograp...
Article
Searching for a property is inherently a multicriteria spatial decision. The decision is primarily based on three high-level criteria composed of household needs, building facilities, and location characteristics. Location choice is driven by diverse characteristics; including but not limited to environmental factors, access, services, and the soci...
Article
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The authors use the timing of a change in Twitter’s rules regarding abusive content to test the effectiveness of organizational policies aimed at stemming online harassment. Institutionalist theories of social control suggest that such interventions can be efficacious if they are perceived as legitimate, whereas theories of psychological reactance...
Article
Purpose This study aims to understand how spatial structures, the interconnections between counties, matter in understanding COVID-19 period prevalence across the US. Methods We assemble a county-level dataset that contains COVID-19 confirmed cases through June 28, 2020 and various sociodemographic measures from multiple sources. In addition to an...
Article
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Innovations promise a better future, which may generate feelings of hope and inspire advocacy. Some innovations are more communal in nature: attempting to address a social problem, through community engagement and wide-spread adoption. For such innovations, the social processes that involve collective aspects of community life may play important ro...
Article
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The Women’s March of 2017 generated unprecedented levels of participation in the largest, single day, protest in history to date. The marchers protested the election of President Donald Trump and rallied in support of several civil issues such as women’s rights. “Sister marches” evolved in at least 680 locations across the United States. Both posit...
Article
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Health researchers have investigated the association between racial segregation and racial health disparities with multilevel approaches. This study systematically reviews these multilevel studies and identifies broad trends and potential directions for future research on racial segregation and health disparities in the US. After searching database...
Article
Geographically weighted quantile regression (GWQR) has been proposed as a spatial analytical technique to simultaneously explore two heterogeneities, one of spatial heterogeneity with respect to data relationships over space and one of response heterogeneity across different locations of the outcome distribution. However, one limitation of GWQR fra...
Article
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Objective: Improving neighborhood walkability has been proposed as a policy intervention to reduce obesity. The objective of this study was to evaluate longitudinal relationships between neighborhood walkability and body weight among adults living in large urban areas. Methods: In this retrospective longitudinal study of United States military v...
Article
Editorial for the journal Spatial Demography appearing in 7:(2/3) - October 2019
Article
As activity space measures are increasingly used to estimate exposure to environmental determinants of health, little is known about the stability of these measures over time. To test the stability of GPS-derived measures of activity-space footprint, size, and environmental features over time, we compared 14-day measures at baseline and six months...
Article
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Introduction: Levels of mental distress in the United States are a health policy concern. The association between social capital and mental distress is well documented, but evidence comes primarily from individual-level studies. Our objective was to examine this association at the county level with advanced spatial econometric methods and to explo...
Article
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Most quantitative studies of neighborhood racial change rely on census tracts as the unit of analysis. However, tracts are insensitive to variation in the geographic scale of the phenomenon under investigation and to proximity among a focal tract’s residents and those in nearby territory. Tracts may also align poorly with residents’ perceptions of...
Article
We explored the validity of a survey measuring activity spaces for use in health research in a racially/ethnically diverse adult sample (n = 86) living in four Chicago neighborhoods. Participants reported on the location and visit frequency of 64 activities and wore a GPS data logger. We assessed the spatial congruence of survey- and GPS-derived co...
Article
Addressing gaps in evidence on causal associations, this study tested the hypothesis that better access to recreational places close to home helps people to maintain lower body mass index (BMI) using a retrospective longitudinal study design and up to 6 years of data for the same individuals (1,522,803 men and 183,618 women). Participants were mili...
Article
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Background Physical inactivity and unhealthy diet are modifiable behaviors that lead to several cancers. Biologically, these behaviors are linked to cancer through obesity-related insulin resistance, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Individual strategies to change physical activity and diet are often short lived with limited effects. Interventio...
Article
The growth of industrial maize farming in Turkey during the first decade of this century points to the primacy of economic development over ecological concerns at a time when global nitrogen and phosphorus flows already exceeded safe limits. In this article we focus on the relations of production as the driver of an economic sector that not only ha...
Article
During the decade of 2000‐2010, industrial maize production in Turkey doubled to approximately four million tons and the area under maize cultivation increased by ten per cent. Concomitant with the increase in total output, private agri‐food industry came to control 90 per cent of total production by 2010. Using exploratory spatial analysis and spa...
Article
Objective To estimate the causal effects of a population‐scale behavioral weight management program and to determine whether the program's effectiveness depends on participants’ geographic access to places to purchase healthy and less healthy foods. Data Sources Secondary data from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clinical and administrative re...
Chapter
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This chapter describes our experiences in connecting a group of emerging Southern African scholars around the inherently interdisciplinary field of migration, urbanisation and health. South Africa, as with other countries in the region, is witnessing multiple simultaneous and interconnected transitions – health, demographic, social, economic and po...
Article
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During the last quarter century the developing world has been experiencing rapid urban growth. These rapidly changing urban landscapes can create many new opportunities for economic growth but the same processes can also generate spatial inequalities within urban boundaries. Using recent and comprehensive geospatial data we describe, map and examin...
Article
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Recent interest in the social determinants of health (SDOH) and the effects of neighborhood contexts on individual health and well-being has grown exponentially. In this brief communication, we describe recent developments in both analytical perspectives and methods that have opened up new opportunities for researchers interested in exploring neigh...
Article
This study examined the number of days of global positioning system (GPS) monitoring needed to measure attributes of an individual's routine activity space. Multiple alternative activity space representations (cumulative, mean daily), measures (kernel density, route buffer, convex hull), and attributes (area size, supermarkets, fast food restaurant...
Article
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Purpose: To outline the development, implementation, and evaluation of a multistrategy intervention to promote active transportation, on a large university campus. Design: Single group pilot study. Setting: A large university in the Northeastern United States. Participants: University students (n = 563), faculty and staff (employees, n = 999...
Article
Purpose: To present the rationale, methods, and cohort characteristics for 2 complementary "big data" studies of residential environment contributions to body weight, metabolic risk, and weight management program participation and effectiveness. Design: Retrospective cohort. Setting: Continental United States. Participants: A total of 3 261...
Article
Mobile and wearable technologies and novel methods of data collection are innovating health-related research. These technologies and methods allow for multi-system level capture of data across environmental, physiological, behavioral, and psychological domains. In the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, there is great potential for...
Article
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This study examined whether community food environments altered the longer-term effects of a nationwide behavioral weight management program on body mass index (BMI). The sample was comprised of 98,871 male weight management program participants and 15,385 female participants, as well as 461,302 and 37,192 inverse propensity-score weighted matched...
Article
Evidence indicates the importance of walking and biking as a form of transportation, known as active travel (AT), on various health outcomes. Time is one of the most cited barriers to AT. The objective of this study was to examine which variables predict walk and bike discordance (discrepancy between perceived an actual travel time) to campus among...
Article
Living in a disadvantaged neighborhood is associated with heightened risk for poor school readiness and health outcomes in early childhood, and the home environment is thought to be a primary mechanism by which neighborhood context impacts preschoolers. This study examined the effects of neighborhood concentrated disadvantage and neighborhood resid...
Article
Full-text available
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among males, and the incidence in Pennsylvania, USA is considerably higher than nationally. Knowledge of regional differences and time trends in prostate cancer incidence may contribute to a better understanding of aetiologic factors and racial disparities in outcomes, and to improvements in preve...
Article
Introduction Among the nearly 21 million military veterans living in the United States, 64.0% of women and 76.1% of men are overweight or obese, higher rates than in the civilian population (56.9% of women and 69.9% of men). Attributes of the residential environment are linked to obesity. The objective of this study was to characterize the resident...
Article
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BACKGROUND Few studies have examined long-term changes in ethnoracial diversity for US states despite the potential social, economic, and political ramifications of such changes at the state level. OBJECTIVE We describe shifts in diversity magnitude and structure from 1980 through 2015 to determine if states are following a universal upward path. M...
Article
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Although increasing racial and ethnic diversity is a demographic trend with society-wide implications, it has advanced farther in some parts of the United States than others. Our research seeks to understand this unevenness at the local level. Drawing on 1980–2010 census data, we use an innovative spatial analytic approach to examine the spread or...
Article
Two areas still need further examination in the ecological study of inequality and mortality. First, the evidence for the relationship between income inequality and mortality remains inconclusive, particularly when the analytic unit is small (e.g., county in the U.S.). Second, most previous studies are cross-sectional and are unable to address the...
Article
In recent years, various levels of government in the United States have adopted or discussed subsidies, tax breaks, zoning laws, and other public policies that promote geographic access to healthy food. However, there is little evidence from large-scale longitudinal or quasi-experimental research to suggest that the local mix of food outlets actual...
Article
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Background: This study aims to characterize the role of county-specific legacy of slavery in patterning temporal (i.e., 1968–2014), and geographic (i.e., Southern counties) declines in heart disease mortality. In this context, the U.S. has witnessed dramatic declines in heart disease mortality since the 1960s, which have benefitted place and race g...
Article
Good accessibility to both healthy and unhealthy food outlets is a greater reality than food deserts. Yet, there is a lack of conceptual insights on the contextual factors that push individuals to opt for healthy or unhealthy food outlets when both options are accessible. Our comprehension of foodscape influences on dietary behaviours would benefit...
Article
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Current models of neighborhood effects on victimization predominantly assume that residential neighborhoods function independent of their surroundings. Yet, a surprising proportion of violence occurs outside of victims’ residential neighborhoods. The current study extends on recent advances in spatial dynamics and neighborhood effects to explore th...
Article
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Background Food environment characterization in health studies often requires data on the location of food stores and restaurants. While commercial business lists are commonly used as data sources for such studies, current literature provides little guidance on how to use validation study results to make decisions on which commercial business list...
Article
Full-text available
Although the trend toward greater ethnoracial diversity in the United States has been documented at a variety of geographic scales, most research tracks diversity one scale at a time. Our study bridges scales, asking how the diversity and segregation patterns of metropolitan areas are influenced by shifts in the racial/ethnic composition of their c...
Conference Paper
Without information on who and how many people are marginalized and underserved and on being able to identify where these groups live, it is not easy to address challenges associated with spatial inequality. There are many studies on urban spatial inequality, but few studies capture the complexity and multidimensionality of spatial inequality and/o...
Article
Introduction: Obesity remains a significant threat to the current and long-term health of U.S. adolescents. The authors developed county-level estimates of adolescent obesity for the contiguous U.S., and then explored the association between 23 conceptually derived area-based correlates of adolescent obesity and ecologic obesity prevalence. Metho...
Article
Understanding whether and how the places where people live, work, and play are associated with health behaviors and health is essential to understanding the social determinants of health. However, social-spatial data which link a person and their attributes to a geographic location (e.g., home address) create potential confidentiality risks. Despit...
Article
Background Social networks can influence physical activity, but little is known about how best to engineer online and in-person social networks to increase activity. Purpose The purpose of this study was to conduct a randomized trial based on the Social Networks for Activity Promotion model to assess the incremental contributions of different proce...
Article
Full-text available
In the current United Nations efforts to plan for post 2015-Millennium Development Goals, global partnership to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has become a critical goal to effectively respond to the complex global challenges of which inequity in health remains a persistent challenge. Building capacity in terms of well-equipped local rese...
Article
Active travel (AT) is associated with many health benefits, however rates of AT remain low in the USA. Using technology to target population level AT behavior allows for the widespread dissemination of behavior change messages. Limited evidence exists on an effective process for developing and tailoring apps for a specific population. Therefore the...
Chapter
Innovation in demography has been driven by new data, tools, and methods and less by theoretical advances. The thesis of this chapter is that new scholarship in demography requires a synthesis of existing theories and conceptualizations of place. More rigorous conceptual models will help enhance our understanding of the processes by which place ‘ge...
Chapter
In December 2011 a specialist meeting on Future Directions of Spatial Demography brought together specialists from multiple disciplines to discuss the state of the science in spatial demography, emergent geospatial data and measurement issues, and spatial statistical methods (for further details on this specialist meeting see Matthews SA, Janelle D...
Book
Introduction: Chapter 1. Recapturing Spatial Approaches to Social Science Problems: Frank M. Howell, Jeremy R. Porter and Stephen Mathews.- Part I. Theory, Concept, and Measures: Chapter 2. Challenges of Spatial Thinking: John R. Logan, Brown University.- Chapter 3. Extending the Boundaries of Place: Carlos Siordia and Stephen A. Matthews.- Chapter...
Article
Full-text available
Context: Promoting regular physical activity can be challenging. Active travel (AT), walking and biking for transportation, is a way to achieve more activity, but rates remain low in the United States. With increased technology use, social media is one way to expand reach. Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the reach of social med...
Chapter
The goal of this study is to develop a method that is capable of inferring geo-locations for non-representative data. In order to protect privacy of surveyed individuals, most data collectors release coarse geo-information (e.g., tract), rather than detailed geo-information (e.g., street, apt number) when sharing surveyed data. Without the exact lo...
Chapter
The goal of this book is to advance thinking in the specialty of spatial demography through enhancing middle range theory. This concluding chapter revisits each of the preceding chapters with a focus on their contribution to our overall goal of drawing attention to the application of middle range theory in the area of spatial demography. Following...
Chapter
In Geographical Sociology, Porter and Howell (2012) describe a minimal set of criteria that a spatial informed analysis should contain. Specifically they argued that spatial analysis should be spatial in …