MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Spatial Inequality

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Spatial Inequality

Rates of asthma tend to be highest in the neighborhoods closest to highways. Rents tend to be lowest in areas closest to highways.

Therefore, __________.

Possible Answers:

poor people are more likely to have asthma

we cannot make any predictions based on this information

a patient who lives near a highway may be more likely to have asthma than a patient who does not live near a highway

asthma rates are highest among people of color

people who live near highways are also more likely to smoke, so it is possible that the smoking, rather than highway pollution, causes increased rates of asthma

Correct answer:

a patient who lives near a highway may be more likely to have asthma than a patient who does not live near a highway

Explanation:

The correct answer is that a patient who lives near a highway may be more likely to have asthma than a patient who does not live near a highway. We can draw this conclusion based on the statement that rates of asthma tend to be highest in the neighborhoods closest to highways. 

Yes, people who live near highways are more likely to be poor because rents are lower, but there are many pockets of poverty—in rural areas, for example—that are nowhere near highways. The statement does not claim that being poor alone increases the risk for asthma. Similarly, it may be true that more people of color live near highways and live in lower rent housing, but in some cities where there are few ethnic minorities, housing near highways may be occupied by non-minorities. There is no evidence from the text that people who live near highways tend to smoke more. 

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