‘My neighbourhood is fuzzy, not hard and fast’: Individual and contextual associations with perceived residential neighbourhood boundaries among ageing Americans

Jessica Finlay, Joy Jang, Michael Esposito, Leslie McClure, Suzanne Judd, Philippa Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Neighbourhoods are fluid social and spatial constructs that vary by person and place. How do residential neighbourhoods shift as people age? This mixed-methods study investigates how perceived neighbourhood boundaries and size vary by individual and contextual characteristics. Semi-structured interviews with 125 adults aged 55–92 years living in the Minneapolis (Minnesota) metropolitan area suggested that neighbourhood boundaries are ‘fuzzy’. Qualitative thematic analysis identified duration of residence and housing stability, race, life-space mobility, social capital, sense of safety, and the built and social environment as key neighbourhood determinants. This informed quantitative analyses among 7811 respondents (mean age 72) from the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study who self-reported how many blocks composed their neighbourhoods. We tested individual and contextual factors identified in the qualitative results as related to perceived neighbourhood size. Three-level gamma regression models showed that being older, white, less educated, lower income, less physically and cognitively healthy, less active, less socially supported, and feeling unsafe were significantly associated with smaller self-reported neighbourhood sizes. Further, living in less racially diverse, less dense, and less affluent areas were significantly associated with smaller neighbourhoods. The mixed-methods findings deepen understanding of scale in neighbourhood-based research, inform urban planning interventions, and help understand what ‘neighbourhood’ means among diverse ageing Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-108
Number of pages24
JournalUrban Studies
Volume60
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Urban Studies Journal Limited 2022.

Keywords

  • ageing in place
  • mixed-methods
  • neighbourhood
  • older adults
  • uncertain geographic context problem

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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