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Does Gentrification Give Children Anxiety?

Neighborhood change brings both positive and negative effects on existing residents. Among the latter: a newfound link to anxiety and depression in kids.
Children growing up in gentrifying New York neighborhoods like Harlem (where Whole Foods opened in 2017) experience increased anxiety, according to research from New York University.
Children growing up in gentrifying New York neighborhoods like Harlem (where Whole Foods opened in 2017) experience increased anxiety, according to research from New York University.Rainmaker/AP

Neighborhoods are a powerful force in the life of a child. Kids who grow up in areas with more opportunities wind up with better mental health and economic prospects, long-term gains that guide their outcomes as adults. And children who remain in place as their neighborhoods undergo demographic shifts that bring in more higher-income residents stand to reap the opportunity benefits.

But there may be at least one health drawback to growing up amidst gentrification. In New York City, low-income children born into neighborhoods that have seen growing numbers of college-educated and affluent newcomers were more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression than poor children who grew up in places that didn’t gentrify.