Neighborhood Conditions

Neighborhood Conditions and Health

Along with conditions in the home, conditions in the neighborhoods where homes are located also can have powerful effects on health. The social, physical and economic characteristics of neighborhoods have been increasingly shown to affect short-and long-term health quality and longevity.  A neighborhood’s physical characteristics may promote health by providing safe places for children to play and for adults to exercise that are free from crime, violence and pollution.  Access to grocery stores selling fresh produce—as well as having fewer neighborhood liquor and convenience stores and fast food outlets—can make it easier for families to find and eat healthful foods.  Social and economic conditions in neighborhoods may improve health by affording access to employment opportunities and public resources including efficient transportation, an effective police force and good schools. Neighborhoods with strong ties and high levels of trust among residents may also strengthen health.  Not all neighborhoods enjoy these opportunities and resources, however, and access to neighborhoods with health-promoting conditions varies with household economic and social resources.  Housing discrimination has limited the ability of many low-income and minority families to move to healthy neighborhoods. The concentration of substandard housing in less advantaged neighborhoods further compounds racial and ethnic as well as socioeconomic disparities in health.

Source: Robert Wood Johnson, Commission to Build a Healthier America Housing and Health, Issue Brief #7, Exploring the Social Determinants of Health”, April 2011.  (accessed July 1, 2015)

Just as conditions in our homes affect our health, the places surrounding our homes also have a relationship with our health. More than 100 years of research reveal that even after accounting for other differences among the people who live in a specific area, the characteristics of their neighborhood can be proven to impact their health. These characteristics are usually divided into three categories: physical, social, and service.

Source: Santa Clara County Public Health. "Santa Clara County Public Health. Health and Social Equity in Santa Clara County.” 2011. (accessed February 5, 2014)

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Additional SDOH Resources

Center for Health Statistics
Minnesota Department of Health
Golden Rule Building, 3rd Floor
85 East Seventh Place
PO Box 64882
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A. 55164-0882
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Updated Monday, April 25, 2016 at 03:42PM