Cultivating social capital in diverse, low-income neighborhoods: The value of parks for parents with young children

Lauren Mullenbach*, Lincoln R. Larson, Myron F. Floyd, Oriol Marquet, Jing Huei Huang, Claudia Alberico, Scott Ogletree, J. Aaron Hipp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Neighborhood built environment features, including parks, may contribute to social capital, but these relationships have not been adequately explored in communities of color. Our study focused on a specific subset of this population—a national sample of diverse, low-income parents with young children (n = 1,611)—to assess relationships between social capital, parks (e.g., access, visit frequency, and satisfaction), and other aspects of the built environment (e.g., perceptions of neighborhood walkability, traffic, and crime). We found that park satisfaction (a measure of park quality) was strongly linked to social capital among low-income parents, but park use frequency and access (both related to park quantity) were not. Neighborhood walkability and safety from crime were also strong positive correlates of social capital. Despite social benefits of parks, moderate to low ratings of park satisfaction, neighborhood walkability, safety from crime, and social capital within our sample suggest that inequities in park and neighborhood quality may prevent families who might benefit the most from social capital (i.e., low-income minority populations) from enjoying key resources needed to cultivate it. Cities hoping to enhance social capital in vulnerable communities would be wise to invest in quality parks and built environment features that create opportunities for positive social interactions among low-income parents with young children.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104313
Number of pages10
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Early online date1 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • built environment
  • equity
  • social capital
  • structural equation modeling
  • urban parks


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