Poor Families, Poor Neighborhoods: How Family Poverty Intensifies the Impact of Concentrated Disadvantage on High School Graduation

Geoffrey T. Wodtke, University of Michigan
Felix Elwert, University of Wisconsin-Madison
David Harding, University of Michigan

The educational impact of neighborhood poverty is thought to depend on duration and timing of exposure, as well as the evolving socioeconomic position of the family. This study extends previous research by investigating how different longitudinal patterns of exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods during childhood and adolescence impact high school graduation and whether the effects of different exposure trajectories are moderated by family economic resources. It follows a cohort of children in the PSID from childhood through adolescence, measuring neighborhood context and family-level covariates at each developmental period, and applies novel counterfactual methods for time-varying treatments and effect moderators that provide unbiased estimates of conditional neighborhood effects under weaker assumptions than conventional regression. Results indicate that exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods, particularly during adolescence, has a strong negative effect on high school graduation and that this effect is much more severe for children from poor families.

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