Longitudinal trends in equity of park accessibility in Yokohama, Japan: An investigation into the role of causal mechanisms

Yasumoto, S., Jones, A., & Shimizu, C.

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Yasumoto, S., Jones, A., & Shimizu, C. (2014). Longitudinal trends in equity of park accessibility in Yokohama, Japan: An investigation into the role of causal mechanisms. Environment and Planning A, 46(3), 682–699. https://doi.org/10.1068/a45683

Environmental Equity , Japan , Longitudinal Study , Park Accessibility

Despite an increasing interest in issues surrounding environmental equity, much research evidence to date is based on studies adopting cross-sectional approaches which do not adequately capture the processes and mechanisms generating inequities. Longitudinal studies may better inform policy measures to remedy inequity between populations, but the few that have been undertaken have mostly been focused solely on environmental risks—ignoring access to amenities. As a case study, we adopt a longitudinal approach in this work to investigate the association between sociodemographic indicators and public park provision over an eighteen-year period in the city of Yokohama, Japan. We show that inequities in park provision are present over the whole time period. Hedonic modelling shows that park accessibility is positively associated with house and land prices in the city. Our results suggested some, relatively weak, evidence of two causal processes: new parks are located in more affluent communities; yet new parks also appear to encourage further move-in of affluent populations. We suggest that park provision by administrative authorities in less-affluent neighbourhoods may be required to maintain equity in access to these valuable community resources. Economic incentives, such as subsidy provision, may have a role to play to encourage park provision by developers.

Main finding
The authors consider environmental inequity to be generated through two different process: 1) environmental risks coming to communities already socially disadvantaged while more affluent areas gain benefits, or 2) disadvantaged or advantaged groups moving to areas after the placement of environmental disamenities or amenities. These processes are caused by two different factors: unequal political power and market mechanisms. A strong association between inequity of park accessibility and affluence was found with the city council opening parks nearly equally among communities regardless of population characteristics while developers tended to build more, albeit smaller, parks in affluent areas or ones with less pensioners. The authors suggest a policy remediation calling for the direct placement of parks by the city council in socially disadvantaged areas.

Description of method used in the article
Longitudinal research was used to measure park accessibility via the association between sociodemographic indicators and public park provisions over an 18 year period. The authors used a 'which came first?' hypothesis regarding environmental qualities and population characteristics. To test this they focused on the role of the different park provision providers: the city council and private developers. Census data, GIS, and mapping were used to generate datasets. The methodological framework could be applied to other settings.

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Organising categories

Other or N/A
3D / Digital / Datasets Spatial Methods
Physical types
Geographic locations