Higher opportunity neighborhoods linked to lower childhood stress levels

Researchers from UCSF and SFSU use the COI in their study on neighborhood quality and childhood stress
Published: 06.01.2018 Updated: 01.16.2020

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco and San Francisco State University recently published a new article titled "Family Socioeconomic Status, Cortisol, and Physical Health in Early Childhood: The Role of Advantageous Neighborhood Characteristics" in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. The study examined the connection between children's stress levels, their family's socioeconomic status, and their neighborhood's opportunity level. They found that neighborhood opportunity, as measured by the Child Opportunity Index, was significantly associated with health outcomes. Children in families with low socioeconomic statuses had higher cortisol levels when they lived in lower opportunity neighborhoods. However, their cortisol levels were lower if they lived in higher opportunity neighborhoods. The study concludes that "Higher opportunity neighborhoods may protect against the negative consequences of low family [socioeconomic status] on children's stress physiology and physical health. Public health interventions that bolster neighborhood opportunities may benefit young children reared in socioeconomically disadvantaged family environments."


The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01 MH062320/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United States).