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Keywords:

  • Children's antisocial behavior;
  • socioeconomic status;
  • economic inequality;
  • neighborhood poverty;
  • economically mixed communities;
  • sex differences

Background

The creation of economically mixed communities has been proposed as one way to improve the life outcomes of children growing up in poverty. However, whether low-income children benefit from living alongside more affluent neighbors is unknown.

Method

Prospectively gathered data on over 1,600 children from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study living in urban environments is used to test whether living alongside more affluent neighbors (measured via high-resolution geo-spatial indices) predicts low-income children's antisocial behavior (reported by mothers and teachers at the ages of 5, 7, 10, and 12).

Results

Results indicated that low-income boys (but not girls) surrounded by more affluent neighbors had higher levels of antisocial behavior than their peers embedded in concentrated poverty. The negative effect of growing up alongside more affluent neighbors on low-income boys' antisocial behavior held across childhood and after controlling for key neighborhood and family-level factors.

Conclusions

Findings suggest that efforts to create more economically mixed communities for children, if not properly supported, may have iatrogenic effects on boys' antisocial behavior.