Concentrated poverty and college graduation: Latency in the effect of adolescent neighborhood disadvantage


Levy, Brian L. (2014). Concentrated poverty and college graduation: Latency in the effect of adolescent neighborhood disadvantage. 2014 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Does adolescent neighborhood disadvantage affect an individual's educational trajectory and odds of graduating from college? When compared to their impact on secondary educational outcomes, observational research suggests a limited role for neighborhoods in postsecondary outcomes. The scant experimental and quasiexperimental research yields contradictory findings. In fact, the gold-standard Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment finds no neighborhood effect. Recent research, however, offers several reasons why an experimental design may not accurately estimate neighborhood effects (e.g., low compliance; small, short-lived changes in neighborhood quality, etc.). The present research uses propensity score matching to account for the endogeneity of neighborhoods while analyzing the impact of concentrated poverty using observational, longitudinal data (Add Health, Waves 1-4). This research also assesses institutional, collective socialization, relative deprivation, and epidemic models as mediators of the hypothesized negative effects of neighborhood disadvantage. Results indicate that concentrated poverty has a strong, negative impact on college graduation, whereas it has only a weak, marginally significant, negative relationship with college matriculation and evidence of a latent neighborhood effect. The impact of neighborhood poverty on graduation odds is explained by neighborhood economic opportunity, providing support for collective socialization theory.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2014 Add Health Users Conference


Levy, Brian L.

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID