Better neighborhoods linked to less childhood stress

UCSF researchers use the Child Opportunity Index to link neighborhood opportunity and poverty-related stress
Published: 06.12.2018 Updated: 11.22.2019

A new peer-reviewed study “Family Socioeconomic Status, Cortisol, and Physical Health in Early Childhood: The Role of Advantageous Neighborhood Characteristics” published in Psychosomatic Medicine finds that children of lower socio-economic status (SES) had less stress (measured by cortisol levels) if they lived in higher-opportunity neighborhoods compared to their counterparts living in lower-opportunity neighborhoods.The researchers used the and Kirwan Institute’s Child Opportunity Index combined with data from a longitudinal study of kindergarten children in the San Francisco Bay area. They conclude that, "Higher opportunity neighborhoods may protect against the negative consequences of low family SES on children’s stress physiology and physical health. Public health interventions that bolster neighborhood opportunities may benefit young children reared in socioeconomically disadvantaged family environments." 

The findings have been featured at UCSFUS News and World Report, and Business Standard.  

For complete statistical analysis and confidence intervals associated with the above figure, see Figure 1 of the study.
Cortisol simple bar

 This study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH62320), the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Psychopathology and Development, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (W. Thomas Boyce, PI).