Older Adult Population and Neighborhood Walkability by Metropolitan Area Size and Degree of Urban Sprawl

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1 Scopus citations


Despite the various health and social benefits walkable environments are expected to confer, initial studies indicate that older adults in the United States are primarily moving away, rather than toward, urban centers. Yet, amid this broad demographic movement, is there any indication that older adults are more likely to be found in more walkable neighborhoods or that the growth in older adult populations (both percentage change and change in proportion) is positively related to neighborhood walkability? To address these questions, the spatial relationship between older adult population and neighborhood walkability (assessed using Walk Score®) and other amenities was examined for about 37,000 urban census tracts situated within U.S. metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more. The results of the modeling procedure suggest a positive association between the population of older adults in 2015–2019 and neighborhood walkability. Crucially, however, the change in older adults aged 65+ between 2010 and 2015–2019 indicates a trend toward less walkable areas. The relationship between older adults and neighborhood walkability varied among “pre-retirement” (50–64) and “retirement” (65+) age groups and by the size and degree of urban sprawl of the encompassing metropolitan area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPapers in Applied Geography
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • baby boomers
  • older adults
  • urban sprawl
  • walk score
  • Walkability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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