Does Neighborhood Matter? Neighborhood Effects on Adolescent Education

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Neighborhood effects measure the direct or indirect effect of the neighborhood context on individual behaviors, such as economic self-sufficiency, violence, education, etc. We know that there is social inequality between neighborhoods depending on the city in which they are located. The neighborhood establishes what kind of home one can afford, the education children will receive, what kind of jobs are available, etc. Previous research has been done to analyze how neighborhood has an effect on education. Results show that neighborhoods with low socioeconomic positions and racial segregation have a negative impact on educational achievement. Del Bello (2015) disagrees and states that neighborhood effects have no correlation with academic achievement. Instead, he argues that peer relationships have an influence on education. This study test Del Bello’s argument by investigating the effects of the neighborhood where one lives has on the education of adolescents. I focus on how the community influences their school performance, learning motivation, and future plans. The data for this study were collected at two different high schools in Southern California. Fifty-eight students from grades 10th, 11th, and 12th and two teachers served as subjects to determine if their neighborhood had an effect on student achievement levels and future success. I created a survey of 24 multiple choice and 1 short answer question asking them personal questions about their life at home, school and their neighborhood in order to compare and contract answers from both schools. I then conducted interviews with one student from each school with hope that their answers would be more in depth and could analyze the information to measure neighborhood or peer effects on education. I also used city and education census data to compare the two. These cities have major differences due to the gap of income and size, which influences the schools where adolescents are attending. In order to protect the identity of the studies, I gave the two cities a made up name, Hillview and Ranchtown. Results show that students from Ranchtown have better opportunities to continue higher education because the socioeconomic status of their neighborhood supports their motivation in schooling. On the other hand, Hillview students believe that if they lived in another area, they would be at an advantage regarding future opportunities. As of now, it looks like the effects on education come from the neighborhood rather than peers. Furthermore, family plays an important role that also has a powerful impact on the lives of these adolescents.


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