The impact of the built environment on children's school conduct grades: The role of diversity of use in a Hispanic neighborhood

José Szapocznik, Joanna Lombard, Frank Martinez, Craig A. Mason, Deborah Gorman-Smith, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Scott C. Brown, Arnold Spokane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A population-based study examined the relationship between diversity of use of the built environment and teacher reports of children's grades. Diversity of use of the built environment (i.e., proportion of a block that is residential, institutional, commercial and vacant) was assessed for all 403 city blocks in East Little Havana, Miami-a Hispanic neighborhood. Cluster analysis identified three block-types, based on diversity of use: Residential, Mixed-Use, and Commercial. Cross-classified hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine the impact of diversity of use, school, gender, and year-in-school on academic and conduct grades for 2857 public school children who lived in these blocks. Contrary to popular belief, mixed-use blocks were associated with optimal outcomes. Specifically, follow-up analyses found that a youth living on a residential block had a 74% greater odds of being in the lowest 10% of conduct grades (conduct GPA <2.17) than a youth living on a mixed-use block. In fact, an analysis of the population attributable fraction suggests that if the risk associated with residential blocks could be reduced to the level of risk associated with mixed-use blocks, a 38% reduction in Conduct GPAs <2.17 could be achieved in the total population. These findings suggest that public policy targeting the built environment may be a mechanism for community-based interventions to enhance children's classroom conduct, and potentially related sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-310
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Built environment
  • Children
  • Cross-classified hierarchical linear modeling
  • Hispanic
  • Latino
  • New urbanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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