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Where you live makes a difference - quantifying neighbourhood effects on the health of young people

Russell Jonsson, K (2018) Where you live makes a difference - quantifying neighbourhood effects on the health of young people. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

The aim of this dissertation was to investigate the geographic and individual/family-level factors influencing the development of psychopathological problems in young people aged between 10 and 15 years old residing in England and Wales. It includes three multilevel model studies based on data from a nationally representative longitudinal study linked to the 2011 UK census. The two outcome measures investigated were mental health and life satisfaction. Aggregated data from the census captured indicators of social capital, ethnic composition, and the socioeconomic and physical conditions of the neighbourhood. Individual/family-level variables included in the models were: youth age, gender and ethnicity, as well as measures relating to parental health, socioeconomic status and demographic characteristics. Study I revealed that the effects of social capital on deprivation depend on whether it is analysed in terms of mediation or moderation. Social capital attenuated the negative effects of socioeconomic deprivation on mental health and life satisfaction. Specifically, the effect of deprivation is reduced by homogenous friendship networks (bonding), civic engagement (bridging), and low average neighbourhood worry about crime (indicator of general trust). As a moderator, homogenous friendship networks and civic engagement buffered young people residing in more deprived neighbourhoods from greater mental health difficulties and low life satisfaction, whilst having little or no impact on those living in less deprived neighbourhoods. These results highlighted the importance of cultivating various forms of social capital because different components appear to offer different benefits. Study II revealed a negative association between socioeconomic deprivation and mental health among White British youths compared to their ethnic minority counterparts, and that ethnic density had a small but mitigating effect on these outcomes, while parental behaviour increased the gap in mental health differences between the two groups. Study III found a strong association between life satisfaction and ethnicity whereby Asian and Black youths reported better life satisfaction than their White counterparts. This differential association was attenuated by ethnic density and neighbourhood socioeconomic status. Overall, the results point to a strong relationship between the social and physical contexts of the neighbourhood, and mental health and life satisfaction. Although much of the observed variability in outcomes was explained by individual/family-level characteristics, the empirical evidence suggested that it was the intersection between neighbourhood composition and the individual/family predictors, which ultimately determined the direction and strength of mental health difficulties and life satisfaction among young people. The findings also suggest that the neighbourhood is an important arena for policies and initiatives targeted at improving the mental health and life satisfaction of young people.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: life satisfaction; mental health; children/adolescents; neighbourhood; young people; socioeconomic deprivation; ethnic composition; parental behaviour; social capital; strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ); England and Wales
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Kenisha Russell Jonsson
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2018 08:21
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2018 08:21
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22287

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