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(Photo: David Woo/Flickr)

The Ongoing Mental Health Benefits of Neighborhood Diversity

• July 03, 2014 • 2:00 PM

(Photo: David Woo/Flickr)

Diverse neighborhoods, it turns out, aren’t just conducive to hipsters.

Hope to have robust mental health well into your senior years? Seeking safety and stability, you might opt to move to a gated community, but new research from England suggests that might be a bad idea.

Examining health information on more than 10,000 seniors, plus localized data on home prices, researchers led by Alan Marshall of the University of Manchester found lower levels of depression in older people who live in economically diverse neighborhoods.

Researchers led by Alan Marshall of the University of Manchester found lower levels of depression in older people who live in economically diverse neighborhoods.

This association “appears most salient for the poorest people,” they write in the journal Health & Place, “but we also find some evidence that it holds to a lesser extent for the most affluent.”

The researchers speculate that the poor have access to better health and social services in such areas, while the rich may feel a health-boosting “sense of achievement” from realizing they’re the most successful people in their surroundings.

Diverse neighborhoods, it turns out, aren’t just conducive to hipsters. They also benefit their elderly parents.


This post originally appeared in the July/August 2014 print issue of Pacific Standard as “The Ongoing Mental Health Benefits of Neighborhood Diversity.” Subscribe to our bimonthly magazine for more coverage of the science of society.

Tom Jacobs
Staff writer Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for The Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Ventura County Star.

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