Spatial Disparities in the Distribution of Parks and Green Spaces in the USA
The authors of this study assess whether the spatial accessibility of parks and green spaces are correlated to race/ethnicity or poverty among census tracts in the conterminous U.S.
Measurements of neighborhood sociodemographic status were indexed by the percentage of residents from the 2006–2010 American Community Survey living under the federal poverty level. A total of 71,763 census tracts were included.
Park and green space accessibility, in terms of environmental justice, embraces the notion that everyone is entitled to environmental amenities regardless of socioeconomic status. The study included 62,318 national, state, and local parks from the conterminous U.S. Green space accessibility was defined as the percent of vegetated land (excluding agricultural uses) within a census tract while park access was a population-weighted distance to the closest seven parks.
- Urban/suburban census tracts with higher levels of poverty and greater concentration of Black or Hispanic residents were closer to parks. However, the opposite was found in rural areas: poverty levels were positively associated with distance to parks.
Further work should be conducted in this area to determine the underlying patterns of spatial disparities with regard to urban versus rural settings. A need exists to ensure greater environmental equity across sociodemographic populations.
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