Volume 26 - Article 17 | Pages 409–448  

Space, race, and poverty: Spatial inequalities in walkable neighborhood amenities?

By Dustin T. Duncan, Jared Aldstadt, John Whalen, Kellee White, Márcia C. Castro, David R. Williams

This article is part of the Special Collection 13 "Spatial Demography"


Background: Multiple and varied benefits have been suggested for increased neighborhood walkability. However, spatial inequalities in neighborhood walkability likely exist and may be attributable, in part, to residential segregation.

Objective: Utilizing a spatial demographic perspective, we evaluated potential spatial inequalities in walkable neighborhood amenities across census tracts in Boston, MA (US).

Methods: The independent variables included minority racial/ethnic population percentages and percent of families in poverty. Walkable neighborhood amenities were assessed with a composite measure. Spatial autocorrelation in key study variables were first calculated with the Global Moran's I statistic. Then, Spearman correlations between neighborhood socio-demographic characteristics and walkable neighborhood amenities were calculated as well as Spearman correlations accounting for spatial autocorrelation. We fit ordinary least squares (OLS) regression and spatial autoregressive models when appropriate as a final step.

Results: Significant positive spatial autocorrelation was found in neighborhood socio-demographic characteristics (e.g. census tract percent Black), but not walkable neighborhood amenities or in the OLS regression residuals. Spearman correlations between neighborhood socio-demographic characteristics and walkable neighborhood amenities were not statistically significant, nor were neighborhood socio-demographic characteristics significantly associated with walkable neighborhood amenities in OLS regression models.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that there is residential segregation in Boston and that spatial inequalities do not necessarily show up using a composite measure.

Comments: Future research in other geographic areas (including international contexts) and using different definitions of neighborhoods (including small-area definitions) should evaluate if spatial inequalities are found using composite measures, but also should use measures of specific neighborhood amenities.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

The potential impact of intermarriage on the population decline of the Parsis of Mumbai, India
Volume 25 - Article 17

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Early life exposure to cigarette smoking and adult and old-age male mortality: Evidence from linked US full-count census and mortality data
Volume 49 - Article 25    | Keywords: linked census and mortality data, linked census data, smoking, United States of America

Female sterilization in the life course: Understanding trends and differentials in early sterilization
Volume 47 - Article 18    | Keywords: contraception, female sterilization, fertility, inequality, reproduction, sterilization regret, United States of America

Berkeley Unified Numident Mortality Database: Public administrative records for individual-level mortality research
Volume 47 - Article 5    | Keywords: administrative data, mortality, statistical methodology, United States of America

Measuring US fertility using administrative data from the Census Bureau
Volume 47 - Article 2    | Keywords: administrative data, census data, fertility, United States of America

Race, class, and marriage: Components of race differences in men’s first marriage rates, United States, 1960–2019
Volume 46 - Article 39    | Keywords: marriage, race/ethnicity, United States of America