This project explores the possible role of competition from chain pharmacies in the
lack of access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods by seeking to answer the
question, “How and to what extent is the prevalence of chain pharmacies related to
the prevalence of food stores in New York City?” Since any competition for commercial
space between chain pharmacies and food stores should be greatest in low-income neighborhoods,
and, in addition, should center on medium-sized food stores as opposed to small or
large food stores, the correlation between pharmacy space and food store space should
be more negative in low-income neighborhoods and for medium-sized food stores.
This project uses a dataset of all food retailers in NYC provided by the New York
State Department of Agriculture and Markets and compares the results from three multiple
linear regression models relating chain pharmacy space to small- (Y1), medium- (Y2),
and large-size (Y3) food store space across three community income levels.
As pharmacy space increased by 1 sqft/capita, small food store space in high-income
neighborhoods increases by 0.55 sqft/capita (p<0.000). There was no significant relationship
between pharmacy space and small food store space in low- or middle-income neighborhoods
at the p=0.05 level. As pharmacy space increased by 1 sqft/capita, medium-sized food
store space increased by 0.24 sqft/capita (p=0.001). This positive relationship did
not vary across community income levels. As pharmacy space increased by 1 sqft/capita,
large food store space increased by 0.45 sqft/capita (p=0.039). Again, this relationship
did not vary across community income levels.
The findings did not support the study hypothesis that the presence of chain pharmacies
contributes to the creation of food deserts in New York City.