Investigation on urban greenspace in relation to sociodemographic factors and health inequity based on different greenspace metrics in 3 US urban communities

Document Type



Background: Study results are inconclusive regarding how access to greenspace differs by sociodemographic status potentially due to lack of consideration of varying dimensions of greenspace.

Objective: We investigated how provision of greenspace by sociodemographic status varies by greenspace metrics reflecting coverage and accessibility of greenspace.

Methods: We used vegetation levels measured by Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), percent of greenspace, percent tree cover, percent tree cover along walkable roads, and percent of people living ≤500 m of a park entrance (park accessibility). We considered data for 2008-2013 in Census block groups in 3 US regions: New Haven, Connecticut; Baltimore, Maryland; and Durham, North Carolina. We examined geographical distribution of greenspace metrics and their associations with indicators of income, education, linguistic isolation, race/ethnicity, and age. We used logistic regression to examine associations between these greenspace metrics and age-standardized mortality controlling for sociodemographic indicators.

Results: Which region had the highest greenspace depended on the greenspace metric used. An interquartile range (33.6%) increase in low-income persons was associated with a 6.2% (95% CI: 3.1, 9.3) increase in park accessibility, whereas it was associated with 0.03 (95% CI: -0.035, -0.025) to 7.3% (95% CI: -8.7, -5.9) decreases in other greenspace metrics. A 15.5% increase in the lower-education population was associated with a 2.1% increase (95% CI: -0.3%, 4.6%) in park accessibility but decreases with other greenspace metrics (0.02 to 5.0%). These results were consistent across the 3 study areas. The odds of mortality rate more than the 75th percentile rate were inversely associated with all greenspace metrics except for annual average EVI (OR 1.27, 95% CI: 0.43, 3.79) and park accessibility (OR 1.40, 95% CI: 0.52, 3.75).

Significance: Environmental justice concerns regarding greenspace differ by the form of natural resources, and pathways of health benefits can differ by form of greenspace and socioeconomic status within communities.

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Category Tags

Conservation, Greenspaces, and Urban Ecology; Racial Justice and Racism; Disproportionate Environmental Impacts; Air

New Haven Neighborhood

New Haven (All)