Panel Paper: Neighborhood Effects on Educational Outcomes: How Have They Changed over Time?

Friday, November 9, 2018
Jackson - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jennifer Candipan, University of Southern California

In the neighborhood effects literature, institutional resource theory views schools as key neighborhood institutions (Jencks and Mayer 1990) and mediators of neighborhood effects (Galster 2012; Sharkey and Faber 2014). In past decades, when neighborhoods were more tightly linked, the composition of a child’s neighborhood correlated more closely with the composition of a child’s school. However, recent work finds that the relationship between neighborhoods and schools in terms of racial and SES composition has loosened in recent decades. If schools and neighborhoods are becoming dissimilar in terms of their compositions, but both are promoting inequality in some way, what are the implications for children’s educational outcomes? In this study, I combine Census/American Community Survey (ACS) data for neighborhoods and National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data for schools, with data on two successive generational cohorts of children from the Child Development Supplement (CDS) Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) Child Development Supplements I (CDS97) and II (CDS14). I examine how neighborhood effects on students’ academic persistence and achievement have changed over time and explore whether this is because schools are increasingly not a neighborhood institution.

While much research has examined how neighborhood context affects student outcomes, the neighborhood effects literature has largely ignored how these outcomes may differ between different eras. Differences in neighborhood effects by period and age cohort may reflect changes in larger societal contexts in recent decades. This study injects a temporal aspect to the study of neighborhoods and schools to show the extent to which neighborhood effects have changed over time. Evidence of changes in neighborhood effects over time could suggest that schools, which have been theorized as a key institution that mediates neighborhood effects, are no longer as tightly linked to the areas they serve. Findings have implications for theories of neighborhood effects, and for urban, housing, and educational policies.