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Effects of neighborhood violence and perceptions of neighborhood safety on depressive symptoms of older adults


  • Wilson-Genderson, Maureen
  • Pruchno, Rachel


Violent crime within a neighborhood as well as perceptions of neighborhood safety may impact the depressive symptoms experienced by community-dwelling older people. Most studies examining the influences of neighborhood characteristics on mental health have included either objective indicators or subjective perceptions and most operationalize neighborhood as a function of socioeconomic status. This study examines the effects that objectively assessed neighborhood violent crime and subjective perceptions of neighborhood safety in tandem have on depressive symptoms. The sample identified using random-digit-dialing procedures included 5688 persons aged 50–74 living in New Jersey (USA). Using multilevel structural equation analyses, we tested the hypothesis that higher levels of neighborhood violent crime and poorer perceptions of neighborhood safety are associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms, controlling for age, sex, and household income. Results supported the hypotheses. We conclude that interventions at the neighborhood level that reduce violent crime may be needed to compliment efforts at the individual level in order to reduce the depressive symptoms experienced by older people.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilson-Genderson, Maureen & Pruchno, Rachel, 2013. "Effects of neighborhood violence and perceptions of neighborhood safety on depressive symptoms of older adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 43-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:85:y:2013:i:c:p:43-49 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.02.028

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2004.059253_7 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Weden, Margaret M. & Carpiano, Richard M. & Robert, Stephanie A., 2008. "Subjective and objective neighborhood characteristics and adult health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(6), pages 1256-1270, March.
    3. Clapp, John M. & Wang, Yazhen, 2006. "Defining neighborhood boundaries: Are census tracts obsolete?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 259-284, March.
    4. Ziersch, Anna M & Baum, Fran E & MacDougall, Colin & Putland, Christine, 2005. "Neighbourhood life and social capital: the implications for health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 71-86, January.
    5. Curry, Aaron & Latkin, Carl & Davey-Rothwell, Melissa, 2008. "Pathways to depression: The impact of neighborhood violent crime on inner-city residents in Baltimore, Maryland, USA," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 23-30, July.
    6. Parra, Diana C. & Gomez, Luis F. & Sarmiento, Olga L. & Buchner, David & Brownson, Ross & Schimd, Thomas & Gomez, Viviola & Lobelo, Felipe, 2010. "Perceived and objective neighborhood environment attributes and health related quality of life among the elderly in Bogotá, Colombia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(7), pages 1070-1076, April.
    7. Berkman, Lisa F. & Glass, Thomas & Brissette, Ian & Seeman, Teresa E., 2000. "From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 843-857, September.
    8. Wen, Ming & Hawkley, Louise C. & Cacioppo, John T., 2006. "Objective and perceived neighborhood environment, individual SES and psychosocial factors, and self-rated health: An analysis of older adults in Cook County, Illinois," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(10), pages 2575-2590, November.
    9. Matheson, Flora I. & Moineddin, Rahim & Dunn, James R. & Creatore, Maria Isabella & Gozdyra, Piotr & Glazier, Richard H., 2006. "Urban neighborhoods, chronic stress, gender and depression," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(10), pages 2604-2616, November.
    10. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:10:1768-1774_4 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Won, Jaewoong & Lee, Chanam & Forjuoh, Samuel N. & Ory, Marcia G., 2016. "Neighborhood safety factors associated with older adults' health-related outcomes: A systematic literature review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 177-186.
    2. Amber Pearson & Gregory Breetzke, 2014. "The Association Between the Fear of Crime, and Mental and Physical Wellbeing in New Zealand," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(1), pages 281-294, October.
    3. Meffert, Susan M. & McCulloch, Charles E. & Neylan, Thomas C. & Gandhi, Monica & Lund, Crick, 2015. "Increase of perceived frequency of neighborhood domestic violence is associated with increase of women's depression symptoms in a nationally representative longitudinal study in South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 89-97.


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