Neighborhoods influence children’s health, so it is important to have measures of children’s neighborhood environments. Using the Child Opportunity Index 2.0, a composite metric of the neighborhood conditions that children experience today across the U.S., we present new evidence of vast geographic and racial/ethnic inequities in neighborhood conditions in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.
Child Opportunity Scores range from 20 in Fresno, California, to 83 in Madison, Wisconsin. However, more than 90 percent of the variation in neighborhood opportunity happens within metropolitan areas. In 35 percent of these areas the Child Opportunity Gap is higher than across the entire national neighborhood distribution. Nationally, the Child Opportunity Score for White children (73) is much higher than for Black (24) and Hispanic (33) children. To improve children’s health and well-being, the health sector must move beyond a focus on treating disease or modifying individual behavior to a broader focus on neighborhood conditions. This will require the health sector to both implement place-based interventions and collaborate with other sectors such as housing to execute mobility-based interventions.
This article includes new analysis of the racial and ethnic dimensions of opportunity hoarding and sharing. We find that opportunity hoarding is positively associated with large gaps between White and Black or Hispanic children. In a given metropolitan area, the wider the gap in scores between very low- and very high-opportunity neighborhoods, the larger the gap in the scores between the neighborhoods of White children and the neighborhoods of Black or Hispanic children. Although there are racial/ethnic gaps in all metropolitan areas, in hoarding areas Black and Hispanic children live in neighborhoods with much lower opportunity scores than White children do.
Learn more about the findings
Opportunity hoarding is not race neutral. Our finding of a strong association between opportunity hoarding and large gaps between White and Black or Hispanic children is explained in more detail in a new data story. Use the dashboard at the bottom of the story to explore the data for your metro.
Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil and Dolores Acevedo-Garcia discuss the findings from our paper and the policy implications in the new weekly podcast, A Health Podyssey.
To celebrate the publication of the special issue, Health Affairs hosted “Children’s Health: Improving Equity and Access,” an online convening.