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People living in unsafe neighborhoods often report poor health. The reasons for this are multi-faceted, but one possibility is that unsafe neighborhoods create a situation of chronic stress, which may deplete people's resources to cope with the daily stressors of life. How people respond to daily stressors (e.g., with increased self-reported negative affect and physical symptoms) is positively associated with health problems and may thus be one pathway linking perceptions of neighborhood safety to poor health. The current study investigated the relationship between neighborhood safety concerns, daily stressors, affective well-being, and physical health symptoms in a national sample of adults from the Midlife in the United States Study II (n = 1748). In 2004, participants reported neighborhood safety concerns and history of chronic stress exposure. Across eight days, they also reported daily stressors, physical symptoms and negative affect. Greater neighborhood safety concerns were associated with higher negative affect and more physical symptoms, adjusting for other sources of chronic stress. Moreover, lower perceived neighborhood safety was related to greater increases in negative affect and physical symptoms on days during which stressors were reported, even after accounting for established interactions between daily stressors and other sources of chronic stress. Exposure to neighborhoods perceived as unsafe is associated with poorer daily well-being and exacerbated responses to daily stressors, which may serve as an individual-level pathway contributing to poorer health among people living in neighborhoods perceived as unsafe.


This article was originally published in Wellbeing, Space and Society, volume 2, in 2021.


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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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