Do persons with low socioeconomic status have less access to greenspace? Application of accessibility index to urban parks in Seoul, South Korea

Seulkee Heo, Amruta Nori-Sarma, Sera Kim, Jong Tae Lee, Michelle L. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Access to urban greenspace has many benefits such as improved health and social cohesion. If access differs by population, these benefits make access to greenspace an environmental justice issue, but little is known regarding accessibility of parks among different sub-groups in Seoul, South Korea. We explored potential socioeconomic inequities for access to parks in Seoul measuring two park provision metrics: total park area per capita (TPPC), and park accessibility index determined by size and proximity of parks. We assessed correlations between a deprivation index for the 25 Gus (administrative unit equivalent to the US borough) and each park provision metric. Regression analyses were applied for the associations between eight socioeconomic indicators of the 424 Dongs (equivalent to the US neighborhood) and each park provision metric. An interquartile range (IQR) increase in percent elderly (≥65 years) (3.2%) was significantly associated with larger TPPC (1.6 m2/person, 95% CI: 0.8, 2.4). Park accessibility index was associated with more socioeconomic variables than was TPPC. An IQR increase in percent elderly and divorce rates (1.2/1000 population) was associated with increased park accessibility by 3571 km (95% CI: 1103, 6040) and decreased park accessibility by 1387 (95% CI: −2706, −67), respectively. An IQR increase in percentage of the population receiving social low-income support aid (2.2%) was associated with increased park accessibility (reflecting park size and proximity of parks) of residential parks near residential areas by 1568 (95% CI: 15, 3120). Results suggest higher park access for socioeconomically disadvantaged regions. Findings indicate that measures of detailed park access considering spatial proximity and park size may more accurately measure park inequity compared to more basic metrics (e.g. TPPC), which may bias estimation of park inequity by capturing only one characteristic of parks. Detailed park measures should be considered in urban planning and health studies of greenspace.

Original languageEnglish
Article number084027
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This publication was developed under Assistance Agreement No. RD83587101 awarded by the US Environmental Protection Agency to Yale University. It has not been formally reviewed by EPA. Also, the work was supported by Environment Protection Agency (Grant No. FP-91782101-0) Science to Achieve Results Fellowship. EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication. This research also was supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01MD012769. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the EPA or National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd


  • Accessibility
  • Environmental justice
  • Greenspace
  • Park provision
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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