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Perceptions of Neighborhood Disorder: The Role of Individual and Neighborhood Characteristics.
Social Science Quarterly (2009)
  • Rachel Margolis, University of Western Ontario
  • Irma T Elo
  • Laryssa Mykyta
  • Jennifer F Culhane
Objectives. The study of neighborhood effects on health and well-being has regained prominence in recent years. Most authors have relied on Census data and other administrative data sources to assess neighborhood characteristics. Less commonly employed, but gaining in popularity, are measures from surveys that ask neighborhood residents about various aspects of their neighborhood environment. Such surveys are a potentially attractive alternative or augmentation to administrative data sources. Methods. Using data from a study of neighborhood effects on pregnancy outcomes among low-income, inner-city women in Philadelphia, PA (N=3,988), we examined psychometric and ecometric properties of scales used to assess perceptions of crime and safety, physical disorder and social disorder, and estimated effects of individual- and neighborhood-level predictors on perceptions. Results. The three perceived neighborhood disorder scales had high internal consistency and good neighborhood-level reliability. Several individual attributes of the women predicted perceptions of neighborhood disorder, controlling for neighborhood-level characteristics (within Census tract, fixed-effect estimates). In addition, our objective indicators of neighborhood crime and physical and social disorder were highly significant predictors of women's perceptions, explaining over 70 percent of the between-neighborhood variation in perceptions. Conclusions. When data on objective neighborhood characteristics are unavailable, the inclusion of questions about residents' perceptions of neighborhood conditions in surveys of inner-city residents provides a useful alternative to characterize neighborhood conditions.
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Citation Information
Rachel Margolis, Irma T Elo, Laryssa Mykyta and Jennifer F Culhane. "Perceptions of Neighborhood Disorder: The Role of Individual and Neighborhood Characteristics." Social Science Quarterly Vol. 90 Iss. 5 (2009)
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