An influential argument explaining why living in certain neighborhoods can become harmful to one's health maintains that individuals can perceive certain characteristics of the neighborhood as threatening and the prolonged exposure to a threatening environment could induce chronic stress. Following this line of argumentation, in the present study we test whether subjective perceptions of neighborhood characteristics relate to an objective measure of stress-related physiological functioning, namely allostatic load (AL). We use a large dataset of 5280 respondents living in different regions of Denmark and we account for two alternative mechanisms, i.e., the objective characteristics of the living environment and the socio-economic status of individuals. Our results support the chronic stress mechanisms linking neighborhood quality to health. Heightened perceptions of disorder and pollution were found related to AL and this relationship was particularly robust for women.
van Deurzen, I. A., Hulvej Rod, N., Christensen, U., Hansen, Å. M., Lund, R., & Dich, N. (2016). Neighborhood perceptions and allostatic load: Evidence from Denmark. Health & Place, 40, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2016.04.010