Neighborhood Social Isolation and Spatial Exposure Heterogeneity Among Urban Youth

Christopher Browning , The Ohio State University
Jake Tarrence, The Ohio State University
Calder Catherine, The Ohio State University
Bethany Boettner, The Ohio State University

Foundational urban sociological theories emphasize the role of heterogeneity of exposure to spatial contexts and associated social environments as an essential feature of the urban experience. Yet the development of “neighborhood effects” research has largely focused on the residential context as the (single) relevant non-home urban exposure space. We explore the extent to which the everyday activity locations of urban youth vary with respect to racial composition and socioeconomic status using unique geospatial data on the travel paths of a large sample of youth from the Adolescent Health and Development in Context study. Contrary to the expectations of the neighborhood social isolation model, findings indicate that increases in the percent African American of the residential neighborhoods youth reside in is associated with greater dispersion in the racial composition of the locations they encounter. Implications for the conduct of “neighborhood effects” research are discussed.

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 Presented in Session 72. Mobility, Activity Space Exposures, and Inequality