Green space justice amid COVID-19: Unequal access to public green space across American neighborhoods.
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15599
Countries around the world have resorted to issuing stay-at-home orders to slow viral transmission since the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown, access to public park plays a central role in the public health of surrounding communities. However, we know little about how such an unprecedented policy may exacerbate the preexisting unequal access to green space (i.e., green space justice). To address this research void, we used difference-in-difference models to examine socioeconomic disparities, urban-rural disparities, and mobility disparities in terms of public park access in the United States. Our national analysis using the weekly mobile phone movement data robustly suggests the following three key findings during COVID-19: (1) The elderly, non-college-educated people, poor people, and blacks are less likely to visit public parks frequently, while unemployed people appear to be the opposite. (2) Compared to rural areas, populations in urban neighborhoods appear to visit public parks more frequently and they generally go to larger parks to minimize the risk of infection. (3) Populations in neighborhoods with higher private vehicle ownership or those with a higher density of transit stops would more frequently visit and travel a longer distance to public parks during the stay-at-home order. Our results imply that conventional inequality in green space access may still exist and even become worse during COVID-19, which could negatively impact people's health during isolation. We suggest that special attention should be paid to park-poor neighborhoods during the pandemic and in the post-pandemic recovery phase.©2023 Authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).