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A Quantitative Analysis of Visual Features in Neighbourhoods and Greenspaces and Early Childhood Development in Hamilton, Ontario

11:30, Wednesday 10 May 2023 EDT (30 minutes)

There is a body of evidence that links neighbourhood census measures to measures of early child development (ECD), but some have argued that such compositional measures are limited. The use of Systematic Social Observation (SSO) methods to quantify attributes of neighbourhoods such as social and physical disorder is an important breakthrough, but there have been few studies on ECD. This paper examines the relationship between visual cues of neighbourhood disorder – the focus of SSO methods – as well as greenspace exposure, on the one hand, and early childhood development (ECD) on the other, in the City of Hamilton, Ontario in 2018. The outcome measure for the study is Early Development Instrument (EDI) among senior kindergarten children, a population-wide measure of school readiness at the individual level, which is collected in Ontario. Domains of the EDI include assessed include physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, communication skills and general knowledge. Neighbourhood disorder and greenspace measures were developed using Google Street View virtual SSO audits.  The analysis uses ordinary least square regression models to test my hypotheses, including whether the EDI selected scale is affected by the greenspace measures and a disorder measure and whether the EDI selected scale is affected by an interaction term between greenspace measures and a disorder measure.

Results show a significant negative correlation between physical neighbourhood disorder and EDI sub-scales for physical health and well-being, language and cognitive development, and communication and general knowledge. There was a positive relationship between the greenspace index, mean_quality_green, and emotional maturity, while greenspace quality was significantly associated with physical health and wellbeing and communication and general knowledge. Neighbourhood disorder, despite there being routine greenspace in the street segments, may have had a greater negative impact on a child’s health in these four domains. Results suggest that the quality and quantity of greenspace is critical to ECD and that policies and programs should increase the quantity and quality of greenspace for improving ECD.

McMaster University
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