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Neighborhood effects, neighborhood problems and policy solutions. Discussant’s Comments on Policy Responses to Neighborhood effects on Education, Work, Crime, and Health 7 April, 2011 William A.V. Clark University of California Los Angeles/ CHR St Andrews. Introduction.

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Neighborhood effects neighborhood problems and policy solutions
Neighborhood effects, neighborhood problems and policy solutions

Discussant’s Comments on Policy Responses to Neighborhood effects on Education, Work, Crime, and Health

7 April, 2011

William A.V. Clark

University of California Los Angeles/ CHR St Andrews

Introduction solutions

  • Places are different

  • Neighborhood conceptions are both positive – (Beverly Hills, Faubourg St Honore) and negative– wrong side of the tracks, lower east side, dog town, pole town – stigmatization

  • Place based interventions are a response to difference, usually to negative differences

Basis of intervention
Basis of intervention solutions

Neighborhoods are (identifiable)

  • Distinctive social worlds;

  • Territorially bounded;

  • Organization based on local institutions;

But of varying form
But of varying form solutions

  • Nominal Neighborhoods: named, but no precise limits;

  • Absolute Neighborhoods: explicitly defined areas;

  • Functional Neighborhoods: activity based;

  • Community neighborhoods: interaction based;

Three seminars
Three Seminars solutions

  • The question/s across two previous seminars have been about whether we have a theory of neighborhood effects and how do we understand dynamic neighborhoods -what is the role of place

  • Now, can we intervene with ABI’s – what is the policy impetus and how sure are we that we can make a difference with ABI

Overview solutions

  • Four papers on substantive issues that have place relevance (presuming we have neighborhood theory)

  • Education, worklessness, crime and health

  • All are central issues for social well being

  • Implicit assumption is that we know “the effect” and we can do something about it (take each paper in turn).

Education solutions

  • Response to poor education outcomes – improve system, target neighborhoods

  • ABI clearly linked to wider regeneration of areas (evidence?)

  • Still only partially successful because meso level approach but need macro too

  • Need to go from redistribution to recognition (but how, not spelled out)

  • Solution – give power back to schools and communities – but how and do they want it?

Worklessness solutions

  • Persistent spatial concentration of worklessness

  • Best route out of poverty is work - so deal with worklessness in deprived neighborhoods

  • Causes –usual suspects (econ restr., culture of worklessness, social capital, stigmatization, poor public transport)

  • To intervene need to know the types of worklessness (can we distinguish and how?)

  • But again, policies have limited impact (p.16) and do not do much (p.19)-no significant difference in gap between most and least deprived

  • Interventions at local level poorly positioned to deal with wider change in labor markets

Crime solutions

  • A lot of interest from Sampson’s work on collective efficacy and role of trust, by extension neighborhood capacity for informal control.

  • BUT Really only one study and there are questions about the robustness of the results (Veysey and Messner)

  • Still not a lot on HOW the neighborhood works, this paper tackles that question

  • Specifically they show that people look beyond the immediate neighborhood

  • That is the neighborhood is more than the neighborhood and it reiterates the issue of neighborhood definition.

Crime 2
Crime (2) solutions

  • Ok but what should we do, what is the policy implication of this research?

Health solutions

  • The paper examines two questions – is poor health concentrated and do socially disadvantaged neighborhoods experience lower quality physical environments.

  • A discussion of smoking outcomes is used as a springboard to discussions of environmental justice

  • Sorting/ migration is identified as a major factor in the creation of difference – who leaves who enters becomes determinant.

  • But health behavior effects are elusive – no or low association of access and outcomes

  • What does this mean for policy?

Health 2
Health (2) solutions

  • The smoking study – two processes:

  • Selection effects in migration such that those prone to smoking are more likely to end up in one place than another

  • And, smokers are more likely to move to areas where other smokers are more likely to live

  • Question: is the location decision made by smokers vis a vis non smokers because they are smokers or because they happen to be of low socio economic status and it is the status that is causing locational clustering?

Observations solutions

  • Neighborhood effect or income effect?

  • And how to deal with the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP)

Life expectancy in glasgow
Life expectancy in Glasgow solutions

14km apart: 28 year difference in life expectancy


Life expectancy=82


Life expectancy=54

What is the question from a policy perspective
What is the question-from a policy perspective solutions

  • Are the areas different because of population composition

  • Are they different from treatment effects - one area has superior facilities and staff

  • Are they different BECAUSE there are area effects – noxious industry, lead paint etc


The underlying question
The underlying question solutions

  • If the bulk of the difference is composition effects then


  • The answer – residential sorting ( see Clark and Morrison -Residential sorting, neighbourhood effects and social mobility: evidence from a large scale survey)

  • but what are the processes which “sorted” people into these two neighborhoods?

Concluding observations
Concluding observations solutions

  • Sorting out the sorting process is central to understanding the uneven concentrations of socio –economic groups

  • Unless we can sort out the sorting process we won’t get close to sorting out the neighborhood effects

Review and Overview solutions

  • They (neighborhood effects) may be mostly an area outcome not an area affect;

  • If neighborhood effects exist, they are probably small, may be dependent upon your definition of neighborhood, and difficult to detect;

  • Analysis of outlier neighborhoods may be more useful (e.g, poor neighborhoods with good health OR wealthy neighborhoods with poor health);

  • A sorting focus gives us both theory and testable measures.