Are there neighbourhood effects on teenage parenthood in the UK, and does it matter for policy? A review of theory and evidence
This paper is a forerunner to an empirical study of neighbourhood effects on teenage parenthood using the British Cohort Study (BCS70). It reviews evidence for the existence of such effects within the quantitative 'neighbourhood effects' literature. It also draws on the wider literature on teenage parenthood to identify three explanatory frameworks for the phenomenon (opportunity costs, differential values and social networks), and to examine the qualitative and quantitative evidence that these mechanisms vary over space in ways that create distinctive 'place effects' at different spatial scales. We conclude that while there is good reason to believe that neighbourhood and wider area influences might be associated with planned or unplanned teenage pregnancies and with the propensity to continue to parenthood, statistical evidence is mixed, and relatively sparse for the UK. Policy makers need to draw on the wider body of literature, including qualitative studies and practitioner knowledge as well as 'hard' proof of neighbourhood effects. Finally we consider implications for policy. We critically interrogate the notion that area effects and area-based policies are necessarily related and instead offer some more specific conclusions as to what the evidence implies (and does not imply) for the purpose and design of policy interventions.
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