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Neighborhood Violence and Urban Youth

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  • Anna Aizer

Abstract

Three quarters of American children have been exposed to neighborhood violence in their lifetimes. Most of the existing research has concluded that exposure to violence leads to restricted emotional development, aggressive behavior and poor school outcomes. However, this literature fails to account for the fact that children exposed to neighborhood violence are highly disadvantaged in other ways: they are more likely to be black, poor and have poorly educated parents. As such, it is not clear whether exposure to violence or the underlying measures of disadvantage are responsible for the poor child outcomes observed. Using individual survey data on urban youth and their families from Los Angeles, we find that the most violent neighborhoods are also characterized by the highest degree of disadvantage: greatest poverty, highest unemployment, least education. And while living in a violent neighborhood increases the probability of exposure to violence, within violent neighborhoods those personally exposed to street violence are significantly more disadvantaged and are more likely to associate with violent peers than their unexposed neighbors. Once we control for observed and unobserved family disadvantage, the impact of violence declines for some child outcomes, suggesting that underlying disadvantage explains some of the negative outcomes observed, but not all - it is still the case that associating with violent peers is negatively correlated with cognitive test scores. In addition, when we control for underlying differences across families, the relationship between violence and internalizing behavioral problems appears stronger.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Aizer, 2008. "Neighborhood Violence and Urban Youth," NBER Working Papers 13773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13773
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anna Aizer, 2007. "Wages, Violence and Health in the Household," NBER Working Papers 13494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Grogger, Jeffrey, 2002. "The Effects of Civil Gang Injunctions on Reported Violent Crime: Evidence from Los Angeles County," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 69-90, April.
    3. Jens Ludwig & Jeffrey R. Kling, 2007. "Is Crime Contagious?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 491-518.
    4. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, January.
    5. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-266, May.
    6. Jeffrey Grogger, 1997. "Local Violence and Educational Attainment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 659-682.
    7. Jeffrey S. Zax & Daniel I. Rees, 2002. "IQ, Academic Performance, Environment, and Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 600-616, November.
    8. Jeffrey Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Lawrence F. Katz, 2001. "Bullets Don't Got No Name: Consequences of Fear in the Ghetto," JCPR Working Papers 225, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    9. Currie, Janet & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?," IZA Discussion Papers 2063, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. In praise of class hatred
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2008-02-19 17:22:01

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    Cited by:

    1. Johanna Lacoe, 2013. "How Feelings of Safety at School Affect Educational Outcomes," Working Paper 9314, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
    2. Chioda, Laura & De Mello, João M.P. & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2016. "Spillovers from conditional cash transfer programs: Bolsa Família and crime in urban Brazil," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 306-320.
    3. Fernanda Marquez-Padilla & Francisco Perez-Arce & Carlos Rodriguez-Castelan, 2015. "The (Non-) Effect of Violence on Education Evidence from the "War on Drugs" in Mexico," Working Papers WR-1082, RAND Corporation.
    4. repec:eee:juecon:v:102:y:2017:i:c:p:22-33 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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