How Residential Mobility and School Choice Challenge Assumptions of Neighborhood Place-Based Interventions
Purpose. Explore the importance of residential mobility and use of services outside neighborhoods when interventions targeting low-income families are planned and implemented.
Design. Analysis of cross-sectional telephone household survey data on childhood mobility and school enrollment in four large distressed cities.
Setting. Baltimore, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Richmond, Virginia.
Subjects. Total of 1723 teens aged 10 to 18 years and their parents.
Measures. Continuous self-report of the number of years parents lived in the neighborhood of residence and city; self-report of whether the child attends school in their neighborhood; and categorical self report of parents' marital status, mother's education, parent race, family income, child's age, and child's sex.
Analysis. Chi-square and multivariate logistic regression.
Results. In this sample, 85.2% of teens reported living in the city where they were born. However, only 44.4% of black teens lived in neighborhoods where they were born, compared with 59.2% of white teens. Although 50.3% of black teens attended schools outside of their current neighborhoods, only 31.4% of whites did. Residential mobility was more common among black than white children (odds ratio = 1.82; p < .001), and black teens had 43% lesser odds of attending school in their home communities.
Conclusions. Mobility among low-income and minority families challenges some assumptions of neighborhood interventions premised on years of exposure to enriched services and changes in the built environment.