Why Does It Take a Village? The Mediation of Neighborhood Effects on Educational Achievement

  • Ainsworth J
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The urban and educational literature has recently begun to focus on the increase of concentrated poverty in inner-city neighborhoods and the educational failure of youth often associated with living in these neighborhoods. The current study examines this issue by identifying which neighborhood characteristics influence educational achievement and what mechanisms mediate these associations. Using the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 linked to 1990 census information at the neighborhood level, the current study finds not only that neighborhood characteristics predict educational outcomes but also that the strength of the predictions often rivals that associated with more commonly cited family- and school-related factors. When considering how neighborhood characteristics influence educational outcomes, theorists have proposed several mediating processes, including collective socialization, social control, social capital, perception of opportunity, and institutional characteristics. The current study reveals that these mediators account for about 40% of the neighborhood effect on educational achievement, with collective socialization having the strongest influence. Also discussed are the theoretical and policy implications of this study and directions for future research.

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  • J. W. Ainsworth

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