Adrift at the margins of urban society: What role does neighborhood play?

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Journal/Book Title

Urban Affairs Review

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We quantify how social detachment (measured as neither working nor attending school) of low-income African-American and Latino young adults relates to their teen neighborhood conditions. Data come from retrospective surveys of Denver Housing Authority (DHA) households. Because DHA household allocation mimics quasirandom assignment to neighborhoods throughout Denver County, this program represents a natural experiment for overcoming geographic selection bias. Our multilevel, mixed-effects logistic analyses found significant relationships between neighborhood safety and population composition and odds of social detachment of low-income, minority young adults that can be interpreted as causal effects. The strength of these relationships was often contingent on gender and ethnicity, however. We draw conclusions for macroeconomic, income-support, subsidized housing and community development policy.

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