Does Living in the “Wrong” Neighbourhood Affect your Life Chances? Theorising and Investigating Neighbourhood Effects
There is a strong belief among academics and policy makers that the social and physical environment of neighbourhoods can have an effect on residents’ life chances over and above the effect of their individual characteristics: so-called neighbourhood effects. There are a range of theoretical explanations for neighbourhood effects from role model effects and peer group influences to stigma and discrimination. A large body of studies claims to have identified neighbourhood effects on outcomes such as educational achievement, health, employment, social exclusion and social mobility. It is questionable however whether these studies have identified real causal neighbourhood effects as most studies suffer from a range of econometric problems, most notably selection bias. In this talk I will discuss the theoretical foundations of the neighbourhood effects debate, the current evidence base, challenges in identifying causal neighbourhood effects, and opportunities for future neighbourhood effects research.
Maarten van Ham is Professor in Human Geography at the School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews, and Deputy Director at the Centre for Housing Research (CHR) at St Andrews.