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Neighborhood Poverty, Volume 2

Neighborhood Poverty, Volume 2: Policy Implications in Studying Neighborhoods

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
Greg J. Duncan
J. Lawrence Aber
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    Neighborhood Poverty, Volume 2
    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 Povertyapproaches 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 indispensable guide for social policy and demonstrate the power of interdisciplinary social science to probe complex social issues.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-086-8
    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 Ecological Perspectives on the Neighborhood Context of Urban Poverty: Past and Present
    (pp. 1-22)
    Robert J. Sampson and Jeffrey D. Morenoff

    A fundamental concern in current debates over concentrated urban poverty is the changing nature of social disadvantage in the inner-neighborhoods of older industrial cities. In particular, a great deal of attention has centered on the growing entanglement in urban areas of neighborhood poverty with other social dislocations such as violent crime, joblessness, family disruption, high rates of infant mortality, and a host of other factors detrimental to social development (for example, school dropout, poor health care). The changing neighborhood context of poverty was brought to the fore of the urban research agenda by William Julius Wilson inThe Truly Disadvantaged...

  5. 2 The Influence of Neighborhoods on Children’s Development: A Theoretical Perspective and a Research Agenda
    (pp. 23-47)
    Frank F. Furstenberg Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Hughes

    As noted in the previous chapters, the influence of neighborhoods on children’s development has recently become a hot topic among researchers in the social sciences, largely due to the issues raised in Wilson’s seminal bookThe Truly Disadvantaged(1987). Wilson’s thesis about the devastating impact of economic stagnation and urban disintegration put poverty research back on the social science agenda. A good deal of this renewed interest in poverty has identified the neighborhood as a critical element in the reproduction of social disadvantage, echoing themes emphasized earlier in this century by Chicago school sociologists (for instance, Park and Burgess 1924;...

  6. 3 Bringing Families Back In: Neighborhood Effects on Child Development
    (pp. 48-64)
    Robin L. Jarrett

    Recent discussions of the underclass have directed attention to the impact of growing up in poor neighborhoods. Focusing primarily on African Americans, demographic data document the concentration of the most impoverished individuals and families within inner-city neighborhoods. Increases in various indices of social disorganization—crime, joblessness, welfare dependency, school dropout, and out-of wedlock childbearing—parallel these changes in neighborhood composition (chapter 1; Gephart vol. 1). In light of these compositional and organizational changes, a negative association between residence in impoverished neighborhoods and child and youth development has been posited. Several explanations—including neighborhood resource, collective socialization, contagion, competition, and relative...

  7. 4 Understanding the Neighborhood Context for Children and Families: Combining Epidemiological and Ethnographic Approaches
    (pp. 65-79)
    Jill E. Korbin and Claudia J. Coulton

    In this chapter we report on our ongoing research in Cleveland, Ohio, that has combined epidemiologic and ethnographic methods to examine the impact of neighborhood factors on families and children. Specifically, we will focus on the relationship between the aggregate data analysis and findings from the ethnographic component of our research. The aggregate data analysis is reported in detail elsewhere (Coulton et al. 1995), as are other findings from the ethnographic study (Korbin and Coulton 1994, 1996). For the purposes of this chapter, findings from the ethnographic study will be linked to the major factors identified in the aggregate analysis....

  8. 5 Sibling Estimates of Neighborhood Effects
    (pp. 80-93)
    Daniel Aaronson

    Despite the large body of cross-disciplinary literature on neighborhood effects that has emerged over the past fifteen years, there is little agreement on the extent to which neighborhoods affect children’s outcomes. This debate continues primarily because the empirical findings have not been robust to data issues, outcome measures, and estimation techniques. For example, significant neighborhood effects have been found by, among others, Borjas (1995), Brooks-Gunn et al. (1993), Case and Katz (1991), Crane (1991), Duncan (1994), and Summers and Wolfe (1977). However, other researchers, most notably, Evans, Oates, and Schwab (1992) and Corcoran et al. (1992), have found no evidence...

  9. 6 Capturing Social Process for Testing Mediational Models of Neighborhood Effects
    (pp. 94-119)
    Thomas D. Cook, Shobha C. Shagle and Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu

    Ethnographers have long studied how neighborhoods influence individuals, usually documenting how they constrain and shape behavior (for example, Burton, Allison, and Obeidallah 1995; Macleod 1995; Williams and Kornblum 1985) but also sometimes emphasizing how individuals and groups shape the environments in which they live (Furstenberg and Hughes 1995). Against this steady backdrop of qualitative research, the past decade has seen an explosion in the amount of quantitative research on neighborhood effects, mostly among economists and sociologists interested in Wilson’s (1987) theoretical work on urban poverty (for example, Crane 1991; Jagowsky 1996; Jencks and Mayer 1990) as well as among those...

  10. 7 Community Influences on Adolescent Achievement and Deviance
    (pp. 120-131)
    Nancy Darling and Laurence Steinberg

    The original motivation for research into the influence of communities on child and adolescent development was based on a simple observation—some neighborhoods are better than others. Large, stable differences in rates of delinquency, school dropout, crime, alcoholism, and unemployment across neighborhoods led investigators at the University of Chicago to explore the predictors and processes underlying neighborhood decay (see chapter 1; Gephart vol. 1; Shaw and McKay 1969; Shaw et al. 1929), Although family influences were often implicated in the etiology of delinquency and other problems, the stability of neighborhood differences in rates of problem behavior in the face of...

  11. 8 On Ways of Thinking About Measuring Neighborhoods: Implications for Studying Context and Developmental Outcomes for Children
    (pp. 132-144)
    Linda M. Burton, Townsand Price-Spratlen and Margaret Beale Spencer

    As noted in earlier chapters, renewed scholarly interest in urban ecology, poverty, and developmental outcomes has spawned a lively scholarly discourse on the relationship between neighborhood context and child development (Berg and Medrich 1980; Coulton and Padney 1992; Garbarino and Crouter 1978; Garbarino, Kostelny, and Dubrow 1991; Jencks and Mayer 1990; Lewin-Epstein 1985; Proctor, Volser, and Sirles 1993; Wilson 1987). Although this discourse has generated a rich, yet inconclusive, knowledge base on neighborhood effects and child outcomes, a systematic examination of the impact that particular conceptual and methodological frameworks have on the study of neighborhoods and children has yet to...

  12. 9 An Alternative Approach to Assessing Neighborhood Effects on Early Adolescent Achievement and Problem Behavior
    (pp. 145-163)
    Margaret Beale Spencer, Paul A. McDermott, Linda M. Burton and Tedd Jay Kochman

    It is within the physical environments of neighborhoods that the effects of economic inequalities may be most apparent (Kochman 1992). The physical environment and its stressors have an immense impact on the development and functioning of humans (Hambrick-Dixon 1990). Environmental stressors such as overcrowdedness, toxic pollution, and lack of greenspace can have severe negative effects on the physical development and psychological responses of families and their youths (Kochman 1992). The idea that development does not occur within a vacuum, but rather in a context of environmental influence, is gaining increased attention (see Bronfenbrenner 1979; Markstrom-Adams and Spencer 1994; Spencer 1985;...

  13. 10 Neighborhood Effects and State and Local Policy
    (pp. 164-181)
    Prudence Brown and Harold A. Richman

    Where children and families live—specifically, the characteristics of the physical, economic, and social space that they occupy over the life cycle—has important consequences for child and family development. There is much to learn, however, about the nature of this complex, multilevel relationship before we can recommend with substantial confidence new policies and practices that would promote a neighborhood’s ability to support the healthy growth and development of its children and families.

    The goal of this chapter is to draw on the research presented in these two volumes and elsewhere to speculate about such policies and practices as they...

  14. 11 Communities as Place, Face, and Space: Provision of Services to Poor, Urban Children and Their Families
    (pp. 182-206)
    Tama Leventhal, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Sheila B. Kamerman

    The research in these two volumes on neighborhoods,Neighborhood Poverty,was undertaken in part as a response to the worsening conditions in poor neighborhoods in America’s cities in the 1970s and 1980s and to the cogent analyses by Wilson (1987, 1991a, 1991b) of the causes and consequences of these trends, primarily on inner-city neighborhoods. Consequently, scholars (or policy researchers) from a variety of disciplines who are attempting to understand the effects of low income on children, such as those represented in these volumes, increasingly have begun to focus on the role of neighborhood poverty (most notably in urban areas) in...

    (pp. 207-230)
  16. Index
    (pp. 231-238)