Understanding neighborhood disadvantage: A behavior genetic analysis


Ksinan, Albert J. & Vazsonyi, Alexander T. (2021). Understanding neighborhood disadvantage: A behavior genetic analysis. Journal of Criminal Justice. vol. 73


Purpose Studies have shown that disadvantaged neighborhoods are associated with higher levels of crime and delinquent behaviors. Existing explanations do not adequately address how individuals select neighborhood. Thus, the current study employed a genetically-informed design to test whether living in a disadvantaged neighborhood might be partly explained by individual characteristics, including self-control and cognitive ability. Method A sibling subsample of N = 1573 Add Health siblings living away from their parents at Wave 4 was used in twin analyses to assess genetic and environmental effects on neighborhood disadvantage. To evaluate which individual-level variables might longitudinally predict neighborhood disadvantage, a sample of N = 12,405 individuals was used. Results Findings provided evidence of significant heritability (32%) of neighborhood disadvantage. In addition, a significant negative effect by adolescent cognitive ability on neighborhood disadvantage 14 years later was observed (β = −0.04, p = .002). Follow-up analyses showed a genetic effect on the association between cognitive ability and neighborhood disadvantage. Conclusions Study findings indicate substantial heritability of neighborhood disadvantage, showing that individuals themselves might potentially contribute to a self-selection process that explains which neighborhoods they occupy as adults.




Neighborhood disadvantage

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Journal Article

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Journal of Criminal Justice


Ksinan, Albert J.
Vazsonyi, Alexander T.

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