Moving Matters: Residential Mobility, Neighborhoods and Family in the Lives of Poor Adolescents

When is moving beneficial or detrimental to youth development, and how do changes in family, school and neighborhood contexts condition the effects of moving?

Across disciplines, residential mobility has been considered a significant event in the lives of young people, one that can have both positive and negative effects. DeLuca’s project examines this tension, especially as it pertains to disadvantaged youth and as it interacts with housing policy. Deluca will use her William T. Grant Scholars award to: (1) map out detailed patterns of youth residential mobility and how mobility relates to changes in family, school, and neighborhood context; (2) identify family and youth level factors that predict mobility; (3) identify how housing interventions affect mobility patterns for poor families; (4) identify how mobility affects adolescent educational attainment, delinquency and health once family, school and neighborhood contexts are considered; and (5) understand mobility among poor families by exploring what motivates moving and how moving affects the social networks, institutional resources and family relationships that are important for youth development. DeLuca will carry out analyses of quantitative data (including the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, the Mobile Youth Survey 1998–2005, and the Moving to Opportunity Program Evaluation) to predict how residential mobility affects youth outcomes such as educational attainment, delinquency and mental health, looking specifically at how the association between moving and youth development is conditioned by relationships with caregivers, changes in community social ties, and psychological stressors. She will also do analyses of quasi-experimental data (from exogenous events that lead to residential mobility, e.g. HOPE VI demolitions). Finally, DeLuca will conduct repeated interviews with poor mothers in Mobile, Alabama, focusing on decisions about mobility, community, family dynamics and how mothers use moving as a strategy for youth well being. Her data will include neighborhoods in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Mobile, AL.

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