Human Development in US Cities and Neighborhoods
49 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2021
Date Written: November 11, 2021
Human development is a complex process involving interactions between individuals and their socioeconomic, biological and physical environments throughout their life courses. The impact of the environment on an individual’s long-term outcomes remains an area of study for multiple disciplines and for policy. However, no single integrative framework has emerged to conceptualize and measure human development across scales, with approaches based on human capabilities applying internationally and neighborhood effects locally. Here, we bring these two approaches together by localizing the Human Development Index (HDI) in US cities and neighborhoods, creating a large dataset characterizing over 70,000 local communities. We demonstrate how to create a scalable implementation of this index, which allows direct comparison on the same standard of neighborhoods, cities and nations as well as any other intermediate scale. We use this metric to analyze patterns of human development in US cities and neighborhoods. We find a systematic effect of city size associated with higher average human development but also an even clearer trend towards higher inequality across neighborhoods. We show that increases in HDI at the local level are associated with the systematic and simultaneous reduction in magnitude and risk of a large and diverse set of neighborhood effects associated with disadvantage, including measures of health, status, opportunity and poverty. We expect that the convergence of the capabilities approach to human development with studies of neighborhood effects will produce a powerful interdisciplinary synthesis of both theory and practice on a theme of critical societal importance and urgency.
Keywords: communities, sustainability, capabilities, inequality, urbanization
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