Child Indicators Research

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 111–131 | Cite as

Mapping Children’s Neighborhood Perceptions: Implications for Child Indicators

  • James C. SpilsburyEmail author
  • Jill E. Korbin
  • Claudia J. Coulton


A growing literature on small-area effects has linked neighborhood conditions with indicators of child well-being. This paper addresses some of the challenges in identifying and understanding these linkages, with a focus on children’s definitions and perceptions of their neighborhood geographies. The study included 60 children aged 7 to 11 and one of their parents in five neighborhoods (census tracts). Neighborhood maps were elicited from both children and parents. Child and parent maps showed only a modest correlation, suggesting that children have their own conceptions of their neighborhoods. Also, home range was not equated with children’s definitions of neighborhood boundaries. Accurate and meaningful measures of neighborhood, including child-centered measures, are needed. Child-centered neighborhood indicators are an important complement to the measures that are increasingly available for standard neighborhood units. The neighborhood is a potentially important context for improving child well-being by developing area-based programs to address spatial inequality in child well-being.


Neighborhood Children Indicators Spatiality Mapping 



We thank Margaret Cooney, Meghan Halley, and Nadia El-Shaarawi for their assistance with the qualitative data. Also, we are grateful to the families who agreed to participate in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. Spilsbury
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jill E. Korbin
    • 2
  • Claudia J. Coulton
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Clinical InvestigationCase School of MedicineClevelandUSA
  2. 2.College of Arts and Sciences, Schubert Center for Child StudiesCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Center on Urban PovertyMandel School of Applied Social SciencesClevelandUSA

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