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Neighborhood Poverty, Volume 1

Neighborhood Poverty, Volume 1: Context and Consequences for Children

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
Greg J. Duncan
J. Lawrence Aber
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 356
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  • Book Info
    Neighborhood Poverty, Volume 1
    Book Description:

    Perhaps the most alarming phenomenon in American cities has been the transformation of many neighborhoods into isolated ghettos where poverty is the norm and violent crime, drug use, out-of-wedlock births, and soaring school dropout rates are rampant. Public concern over these destitute areas has focused on their most vulnerable inhabitants-children and adolescents. How profoundly does neighborhood poverty endanger their well-being and development? Is the influence of neighborhood more powerful than that of the family?Neighborhood Poverty: Context and Consequences for Childrenapproaches these questions with an insightful and wide-ranging investigation into the effect of community poverty on children's physical health, cognitive and verbal abilities, educational attainment, and social adjustment.

    This two-volume set offers the most current research and analysis from experts in the fields of child development, social psychology, sociology and economics. Drawing from national and city-based sources,Volume Ireports the empirical evidence concerning the relationship between children and community. As the essays demonstrate, poverty entails a host of problems that affects the quality of educational, recreational, and child care services. Poor neighborhoods usually share other negative features-particularly racial segregation and a preponderance of single mother families-that may adversely affect children. Yet children are not equally susceptible to the pitfalls of deprived communities. Neighborhood has different effects depending on a child's age, race, and gender, while parenting techniques and a family's degree of community involvement also serve as mitigating factors.

    Volume IIincorporates empirical data on neighborhood poverty into discussions of policy and program development. The contributors point to promising community initiatives and suggest methods to strengthen neighborhood-based service programs for children. Several essays analyze the conceptual and methodological issues surrounding the measurement of neighborhood characteristics. These essays focus on the need to expand scientific insight into urban poverty by drawing on broader pools of ethnographic, epidemiological, and quantitative data.Volume IIexplores the possibilities for a richer and more well-rounded understanding of neighborhood and poverty issues.

    To grasp the human cost of poverty, we must clearly understand how living in distressed neighborhoods impairs children's ability to function at every level.Neighborhood Povertyexplores the multiple and complex paths between community, family, and childhood development. These two volumes provide and indispensible guide for social policy and demonstrate the power of interdisciplinary social science to probe complex social issues.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-084-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxii)
    Martha A. Gephart and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

    The resurgence of interest in the influences of neighborhood and community contexts on the development of children, youth, and families who reside and interact in them is a welcome addition to social science. Through a new generation of studies, researchers are attempting to assess the combined effects of individual, family, and neighborhood/community characteristics on the development of children and adolescents. An interdisciplinary group of scholars working under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council planned and undertook a research program on the influences of community and neighborhood contexts, in interaction with family processes, on the development of poor children...

  4. 1 Neighborhoods and Communities as Contexts for Development
    (pp. 1-43)
    Martha A. Gephart

    InThe Truly Disadvantaged,William Julius Wilson (1987) argued that the deindustrialization of the U.S. economy, the shift of jobs from cities to suburbs, and the flight of minority middle-class families from the inner cities had led to severe social dislocations in some urban neighborhoods. Left behind, he suggested, were communities lacking the institutions, resources, and role models necessary for success in a postindustrial society. Wilson argued that people living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty had become isolated from job networks, mainstream institutions, and role models, and that a variety of social dislocations resulted from this isolation, including school dropout...

  5. 2 Development in Context: Implications for Studying Neighborhood Effects
    (pp. 44-61)
    J. Lawrence Aber, Martha A. Gephart, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and James P. Connell

    This chapter introduces the conceptual framework within which the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) studies of neighborhoods’ effects on children, youth, and families reported in this volume are being conducted and interpreted. Our framework combines a model of neighborhood and community influences with an integrative model of development in context for understanding the ways in which neighborhoods could influence development. The framework as a whole is first presented. Then each component is considered in more detail. Finally, and most importantly, we discuss the ways in which neighborhoods could influence development using some of the concepts described early in this chapter....

  6. 3 Neighborhood Models and Measures
    (pp. 62-78)
    Greg J. Duncan and J. Lawrence Aber

    The decision to estimate neighborhood effects on child and youth development using multiple and varied data sets required the development of a common analytical approach to the estimation of neighborhood effects, as well as a common conceptual framework and measurement strategy for describing the variation in neighborhood structure and composition that may be associated with developmental outcomes. Some of our data sets, such as the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (NLSY) and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), are drawn from national probability samples. These two studies provide large numbers of observations and national representation of both children and...

  7. 4 Neighborhood and Family Influences on the Intellectual and Behavioral Competence of Preschool and Early School-Age Children
    (pp. 79-118)
    P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Rachel A. Gordon, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Pamela K. Klebanov

    In this chapter we examine neighborhood-and family-level effects on the functioning of preschool (three-and four-year-old) and early school-age (five-and six-year-old) children. We use data from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), a survey of children based on a national survey of adolescents and young adults begun in 1979, and from the Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP), a large eight-site study of an early educational intervention for premature and low-birth-weight children and their parents.

    Developmentalists now recognize the importance of considering the ecological contexts of a growing child. Bronfenbrenner (1979) has long advocated for such an...

  8. 5 Are Neighborhood Effects on Young Children Mediated by Features of the Home Environment?
    (pp. 119-145)
    Pamela K. Klebanov, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Rachel A. Gordon

    Our goal in this chapter is to extend chapter 4’s analyses in several ways in order to understand whether or not neighborhood of residence is linked to the actual environments of children’s homes, not just to the family’s income and educational resources. Following Coleman (1988) and Haveman and Wolfe (1994), we have begun to look at the family and community resources available to children (Brooks-Gunn 1996; Brooks-Gunn, Brown et al. 1995; Brooks-Gunn, Denner, and Klebanov 1995; Leventhal, Brooks-Gunn, and Kamerman 1997).

    This chapter has three aims. The first is to look at how neighborhood composition is correlated with indicators in...

  9. 6 Neighborhood and Family Factors Predicting Educational Risk and Attainment in African American and White Children and Adolescents
    (pp. 146-173)
    Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher, James P. Connell, Margaret Beale Spencer, J. Lawrence Aber, Greg J. Duncan, Elizabeth Clifford, Warren E. Crichlow, Peter A. Usinger, Steven P. Cole, LaRue Allen and Edward Seidman

    In American society, individual development during early and middle childhood largely depends on events occurring at home and in school (Entwisle and Alexander 1992, 1993). As children develop, they spend less time with adults and more time with their friends. Adolescence, in particular, is a time when many activities take place outside the home and when youth are presumably subjected to more extrafamilial influences than at any previous time (Brown 1990; Csikszentmihalyi, Larson, and Prescott 1977). In this chapter we explore the extent to which neighborhood composition and family characteristics are associated with school outcomes using several separate data sets...

  10. 7 How Neighborhoods Affect Educational Outcomes in Middle Childhood and Adolescence: Conceptual Issues and an Empirical Example
    (pp. 174-199)
    James P. Connell and Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher

    In this chapter we build on the data presented in chapter 6 to raise a set of conceptual issues regarding the ways that neighborhoods could influence educational outcomes across the developmental span from middle childhood to later adolescence. First, we briefly describe the developmental backdrop against which the influences of neighborhood characteristics may emerge. We then describe a recently developed general model of these influences and use this model to help generate a series of specific hypotheses concerning potential pathways from neighborhood characteristics to educational outcomes during childhood and adolescence. We also present an empirical example that tests one particular...

  11. 8 Neighborhood and Family Influences on Young Urban Adolescents’ Behavior Problems: A Multisample, Multisite Analysis
    (pp. 200-218)
    Margaret Beale Spencer, Steven P. Cole, Stephanie M. Jones and Dena Phillips Swanson

    For American youth, the transition from late childhood to early adolescence represents a confluence of biological, psychological and social changes. These changes and transitions between the ages of ten and sixteen years are largely independent of ethnicity, economic resources, contextual risk, and unique neighborhood characteristics. This study examines urban African American youth in poor, distressed neighborhoods. It was designed to examine individual differences in coping, adaptation, and mental health among youth in high-risk environments. Thus, the selected measures address positive microcontext, coping and identity. In addition, we examine differences in processes and outcomes between youth in somewhat risky and extremely...

  12. 9 Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Estimating Causal Effects of Neighborhoods and Family Conditions on Individual Development
    (pp. 219-250)
    Greg J. Duncan, James P. Connell and Pamela K. Klebanov

    Drawing causal inferences from data such as ours is fraught with hazards. For our specific task—the estimation of the causal effects of neighborhoods on children’s development—the list of possible sources of bias is long indeed. As discussed in earlier chapters, various concerns involving measurement issues may mean that our estimates understate the true causal effects of neighborhoods on children and adolescents (see also Korbin and Coulton vol. 2; Sampson and Morenoff vol. 2; Tienda 1991). A separate set of concerns could be raised over the structure of the causal models we choose to estimate, many of which may...

  13. 10 Neighborhood Effects and Federal Policy
    (pp. 251-278)
    Jeffrey S. Lehman and Timothy M. Smeeding

    In this chapter, we reflect on what the social science research included in this volume implies for federal policy. How should Congress react to this new learning about neighborhood effects on children? What direction should policy makers take from this new scholarship? We approach these questions slowly and carefully, because they subsume some very difficult general questions about the relationship between academic scholarship and the domain of public policy, and about the relationship of federal policy to children in prospering, as well as failing, neighborhoods. By making these general questions explicit in the first portion of this chapter, we hope...

  14. 11 Lessons Learned and Future Directions for Research on the Neighborhoods in Which Children Live
    (pp. 279-298)
    Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Greg J. Duncan, Tama Leventhal and J. Lawrence Aber

    In this first volume ofNeighborhood Poverty, our working group has attempted to provide a state-of-the-art quantitative assessment of whether, and in what ways, the neighborhood conditions in which children are raised influence their achievement, behavior, and mental health. Strengths of our approach inPolicy Implications in Studying Neighborhoodsinclude the use of longitudinal data and a consistent set of well-conceived census-based measures of the demographic composition of neighborhoods, as well as the recognition reflected in our analyses that the influence of context depends on a child’s level of development. (Our second volume contains commentaries on conceptual, methodological, and theoretical...

  15. References
    (pp. 299-326)
  16. Index
    (pp. 327-334)