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The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths

  • Anne C. Case
  • Lawrence F. Katz

We examine the effects of family background variables and neighborhood peers on the behaviors of inner-city youths in a tight labor market using data from the 1989 NBER survey of youths living in low-income Boston neighborhoods. We find that family adult behaviors are strongly related to analogous youth behaviors. The links between the behavior of older family members and youths are important for criminal activity, drug and alcohol use, childbearing out of wedlock, schooling, and church attendance. We also find that the behaviors of neighborhood peers appear to substantially affect youth behaviors in a manner suggestive of contagion models of neighborhood effects. Residence in a neighborhood in which a large proportion of other youths are involved in crime is associated with a substantial increase in an individual's probability of the being involved in crime. Significant neighborhood peer effects are also apparent for drug and alcohol use, church attendance, and the propensity of youths to be out of school and out of work. Our results indicate that family and peer influences both operate in manner such that "like begets like."

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3705.

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Date of creation: May 1991
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3705
Note: LS
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  1. George J. Borjas, 1991. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," NBER Working Papers 3788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Heckman, James J, 1978. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 931-59, July.
  3. Joseph G. Altonji & Thomas A. Dunn, 1991. "Relationships Among the Family Incomes and Labor Market Outcomes of Relatives," NBER Working Papers 3724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Juhn, Chinhui, 1992. "Decline of Male Labor Market Participation: The Role of Declining Market Opportunities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 79-121, February.
  5. Richard B. Freeman, 1986. "Who Escapes? The Relation of Churchgoing and Other Background Factors to the Socioeconomic Performance of Black Male Youths from Inner-City Tracts," NBER Chapters, in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 353-376 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Mary Corcoran & Roger H. Gordon & Deborah Laren & Gary Solon, 1989. "Effects of Family and Community Background on Men's Economic Status," NBER Working Papers 2896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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