The Effect of Neighborhood Context on Educational Achievement

Steven E. Alvarado, University of Notre Dame

This paper investigates the effects of neighborhood context on math and reading scores for youth who experience exogenous neighborhood change around them over time. Seldom-used restricted panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1986 – 2008) is used to estimate person fixed effects models that account for unobserved time-invariant characteristics of children and families. Black and Latino youth are found to reside amidst more disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout adolescence than Whites. Further, disparities in neighborhood quality are rigid as children mature. Fixed-effects models demonstrate that neighborhood poverty is a consistent detrimental force for achievement across racial and ethnic groups. Gentrification, however, is an inconsistent predictor of increased achievement across these groups. Theoretical and methodological implications are discussed.

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Presented in Session 204: Neighborhood Effects on Education, Health, and Economic Mobility