The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths

41 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2004 Last revised: 18 Aug 2010

See all articles by Anne Case

Anne Case

Princeton University - Research Program in Development Studies; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lawrence F. Katz

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 1991

Abstract

We examine the effects of family background variables and neighborhood peers on the behaviors of inner-city youths in a tight labor market using data from the 1989 NBER survey of youths living in low-income Boston neighborhoods. We find that family adult behaviors are strongly related to analogous youth behaviors. The links between the behavior of older family members and youths are important for criminal activity, drug and alcohol use, childbearing out of wedlock, schooling, and church attendance. We also find that the behaviors of neighborhood peers appear to substantially affect youth behaviors in a manner suggestive of contagion models of neighborhood effects. Residence in a neighborhood in which a large proportion of other youths are involved in crime is associated with a substantial increase in an individual's probability of the being involved in crime. Significant neighborhood peer effects are also apparent for drug and alcohol use, church attendance, and the propensity of youths to be out of school and out of work. Our results indicate that family and peer influences both operate in manner such that "like begets like."

Suggested Citation

Case, Anne and Katz, Lawrence F., The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths (May 1991). NBER Working Paper No. w3705. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226935

Anne Case (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Research Program in Development Studies ( email )

Woodrow Wilson School
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Lawrence F. Katz

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/katz/katz

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