Neighborhood Contexts, Family Characteristics, and Non-Cognitive Skills among Adolescents


Pai, Manacy; Barr, Peter B.; & Schnellinger, Rusty P. (2023). Neighborhood Contexts, Family Characteristics, and Non-Cognitive Skills among Adolescents. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. pp. 1-22


With mounting evidence showing the significance of non-cognitive skills for morbidity and mortality, information on the antecedents of non-cognition skill development is central for research, policy, and interventions on health. As such, this study examines the extent to the which (a) non-cognitive skills - namely, conscientiousness, future orientation, and risk aversion - are associated with neighborhood contexts of disadvantage and disorder; and (b) the association between neighborhood contexts and non-cognitive skills sustains after controlling for family socioeconomic status (SES), structure, conflict, and cohesion among adolescents. Survey-weighted linear regression models based on a sample of 10,874 respondents from Waves I and III of The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) reveal that, as expected, neighborhood disadvantage and disorder are independently associated with conscientiousness and future orientation, such that more favorable neighborhood environments are associated with greater levels of these two traits. However, contrary to expectation, living in a socioeconomically disadvantaged environment is associated with increased risk aversion (i.e. reduced risk-taking). Moreover, we find that after adjusting for family SES and covariates, neighborhood associations are no longer significant, and family SES remains positively associated with the three non-cognitive traits. Overall, our results suggest that any association between neighborhood environment and non-cognitive skills occurs through more proximal, family contexts.



Neighborhood disadvantage

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment


Pai, Manacy
Barr, Peter B.
Schnellinger, Rusty P.

Year Published





December 17, 2023





Reference ID