Nancy McArdle, M.P.P.

Nancy McArdle is a researcher and author with more than twenty years experience analyzing housing policy and demographics, migration and settlement patterns, racial segregation, and the intersection between civil rights and opportunity. She received a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and was research analyst at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies where she specialized in housing demographics. McArdle was also research director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project’s Metro Boston Equity Initiative. She has been an expert witness, providing analysis and testimony at trial in several major legal cases involving housing and school segregation.

Research Interests and Projects

McArdle co-authored the Joint Center for Housing Studies’ signature report, The State of the Nation’s Housing. At the Civil Rights Project, she explored the relationship between racial segregation and housing, employment and educational opportunity. McArdle is currently co-developer and principal data analyst of, a website allowing comparison of a wide range of socio-economic, demographic, and neighborhood indicators by race/ethnicity for every metropolitan area in the United States. She is part of a team extending the work to focus primarily on opportunities for children by incorporating additional advocacy and policy-related resources. Analyses drawing on show wide disparity in opportunity between racial and ethnic groups, much of it related to variations in the neighborhoods where people live. High levels of residential segregation mean black and Latino children still largely attend schools that are separate and unequal, and residents of high-minority neighborhoods have been disproportionately victimized by predatory mortgage loans . Analyses also show that minority families live in poorer neighborhoods, even when compared to whites of similar incomes. Further, residents of subsidized housing generally lack access to areas that provide opportunity for jobs, education and healthy lifestyles. Policies to address these inequalities might include stricter enforcement of fair housing and lending laws, creation of regional magnet schools that promote racial integration and high quality educational opportunities, and incentives for placing subsidized housing in areas that provide opportunities for quality education, a healthy lifestyle and job access.

McArdle’s health-related research examines the variability in health insurance coverage among children of immigrants and differences in self-reported health between immigrants and first- and second-generation Americans by race and ethnicity. First-generation immigrants in the U.S. are less likely than the third generation to have poor or fair self-rated health, and this association is particularly strong for blacks and Hispanics. McArdle is currently investigating disparities in U.S. birth outcomes, including pre-term and low birth weight births, by race/ethnicity and immigrant status of the mother across metropolitan areas. These results highlight the negative outcomes for black children, the better than expected outcomes for Hispanic children, and the overall advantage of foreign-born mothers relative to native-born mothers across racial/ethnic groups.

Contact Information:


Acevedo-Garcia D, Bates LM, Osypuk TL, McArdle N. (September 2010) The Effect of Immigrant Generation and Duration on Self-rated Health Among US Adults 2003-2007. Social Science and Medicine. 71(6):1161-72.

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Rosenfeld, LE, McArdle, N., Osypuk, T.L. (2010) The Geography of Opportunity: A Framework for Child Development,in Changing Places: How Communities Will Improve the Health of Boys of Color, Edley, Jr. and Ruiz de Velasco, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press.

McArdle, N. (2009) Color Lines in a Multiracial Nation: An Institutional Demographic Overview of the United States in the Twenty-First Century, in Twenty-First Century Color Lines: Multiracial Change in Contemporary America, Grant-Thomas and Orfield, eds. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Osypuk, T. L., Galea, S., McArdle, N., and Acevedo-Garcia, D. (September 2009) Quantifying Separate and Unequal: Racial-Ethnic Distributions of Neighborhood Poverty in Metropolitan America. Urban Affairs Review 45:25-65.

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Osypuk, T.L., McArdle, N. (2009) Racial/Ethnic Integration and Child Health Disparities, in The Integration Debate: Competing Futures for American Cities. Hartman and Squires, eds. London: Routledge.

Acevedo-Garcia, D., Osypuk, T.L., McArdle, N., Williams, D.R. (2008) Toward a Policy-Relevant Analysis of Geographic and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Child Health. Health Affairs 27(2):321-333.