Low-income residents more likely to care about neighborhood

U. MISSOURI (US) — Some may assume that residents of run-down, crime-ridden neighborhoods don’t care about their communities, but new research suggests otherwise.

Mansoo Yu, an assistant professor of social work and public health at the University of Missouri, studied levels of community care and vigilance among residents living in high-crime, low-income areas.

Community care and vigilance refer to individuals’ desires to improve their communities, to take pride in their neighborhoods, and to monitor and report unwelcome happenings, such as crimes, near their homes.

“We hypothesized that individuals with higher incomes would have higher levels of community care and vigilance, but the opposite was true,” Yu says. “Residents with lower incomes were more likely to care about their communities than their higher-earning neighbors.”

Yu says he and colleagues were somewhat surprised by the findings that lower-income residents cared more about their communities. The study is published in the journal Race and Social Problems.

“One possibility is that because these individuals had such low incomes, they were more likely to stay in the same area for a long time,” Yu says. “Low-income residents might lack the resources to move to other communities, whereas their neighbors with relatively higher incomes might be more able to move to better neighborhoods with safer environments.”

Yu says community workers and organizers as well as public health professionals should find ways for residents to develop pride in their neighborhoods and encourage them to take actions, such as volunteering, to improve their communities.

“Healthy local environments are related to overall well-being and good mental and physical health,” Yu says. “Individuals tend to feel safer in their local communities when they have low levels of depression and high levels of self-esteem. More work is needed to improve low-income areas into healthy environments so individuals’ well-beings can improve.”

Source: University of Missouri