U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Neighborhood Characteristics

The environment in which a child grows up can affect his or her physical health, social and emotional functioning, and cognitive development. The availability of neighborhood amenities, such as playgrounds, community centers, and libraries provides children with opportunities to be active and engaged in the broader community. Poor conditions, however, such as dilapidated housing, vandalism, and litter or garbage on the street may have an adverse impact, either directly or indirectly, on a child’s overall well-being.

In 2007, 46.7 percent of children lived in neighborhoods that had four neighborhood amenities, including sidewalks, parks or playgrounds, recreation or community centers, and a library, while 28.6 percent of children lived in neighborhoods with at least one indicator of poor conditions, such as vandalism, litter on the street, or dilapidated housing.

The percentage of children living in neighborhoods with amenities and poor conditions varied significantly by poverty status. Among children with household incomes of 100 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), 39.5 percent lived in neighborhoods with four neighborhood amenities, compared to 46.7 percent of children with household incomes of 201-400 percent FPL and 54.2 percent of children with incomes of more than 400 percent FPL.

Non-Hispanic Black children were most likely to live in neighborhoods with one or more poor conditions (37.0 percent), and Hispanic children were second most likely (33.5 percent). Non-Hispanic White children were least likely to live in neighborhoods with one or more poor conditions (24.4 percent).

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