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The Contingent Meaning of Neighborhood Stability for Residents' Psychological Well-Being

Catherine E. Ross, John R. Reynolds and Karlyn J. Geis
American Sociological Review
Vol. 65, No. 4 (Aug., 2000), pp. 581-597
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657384
Page Count: 17
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The Contingent Meaning of Neighborhood Stability for Residents' Psychological Well-Being
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Abstract

According to a cohesiveness perspective, neighborhood stability is good for communities and the individuals who live in them, and may be especially beneficial in poor neighborhoods. In contrast, a social isolation perspective proposes that neighborhood stability has negative effects on residents' psychological well-being in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. This analysis of multilevel data-data in which survey information from a representative sample of Illinois residents is linked to census-tract information about poverty and stability in their neighborhood-supports a social isolation perspective. In affluent neighborhoods, stability is associated with low levels of distress; under conditions of poverty the opposite is true. In part this occurs because residents of poor, stable neighborhoods face high levels of disorder in their neighborhoods. Stability does not reduce perceived disorder under conditions of poverty, as it does in more affluent neighborhoods, which leaves residents feeling powerless to leave a dangerous place. Finally, the negative effects of poor, stable neighborhoods on residents' psychological well-being do not stem from a lack of social ties among neighbors.

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