How Neighborhoods Influence Our Lives & Futures

How Neighborhoods Influence Our Lives & Futures
George C. Galster
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Just as the home itself matters for its residents, the social environment of neighborhoods impact health outcomes. While physical components of neighborhoods are known to impact health, such as distance to resources like day care, schools and medical facilities, a growing body of research has found that the social environment is instrumental in health as well. An in-depth analysis of neighborhoods' impacts on individual outcomes found that supportive social networks, local norms, and peer influences are a part of the neighborhood context that can greatly impact health.

Major findings:

  • Spatial mismatch between jobs and quality public services negatively impact health.
  • Environmental hazards such as neighborhood violence and pollution can lead to poorer health outcomes.
  • The chronic stress of living in high-crime, high-poverty neighborhoods with deteriorating buildings can affect parenting, which in turn affects children.

Editor's note: Revised for clarity, April 2015.