Neighborhood context and well-being
Lei, Man Kit
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Although the link between neighborhood contexts and individual well-being is robust, little is known about how individual characteristics affect the way in which people respond to neighborhood conditions. In addressing this issue, this dissertation assessed whether prior neighborhood studies can be replicated using a sample of adult African American females and the possible gendered and temporal nature of street code adoption. Additionally, I addressed why there is so much heterogeneity in the behavior of individuals residing in the same neighborhood. Concerning non-criminogenic outcomes, I analyzed how neighborhood effects influence physical health? Using a sample of adult females, I found that the impact of neighborhood disadvantage on antisocial behavior was mediated by social ties. Further, the effects of neighborhood disadvantage and social ties on antisocial behavior were moderated by genes. Examination of these moderating effects provided support for the differential susceptibility model of G×E. Finally, the effect of G×neighborhood disadvantage on antisocial behavior was explained by the effect of G×social ties. These findings provide strong support for an expanded view of social disorganization theory. Beyond criminogenic outcomes, health outcomes are essential for understanding the holistic impact of neighborhood contexts on individuals. The findings of this dissertation showed that women who live in disorderly neighborhoods were more likely to report poor health status and to have elevated inflammatory responses. Furthermore, the relationship between neighborhood disorder and self-reported health was mediated by the inflammatory burden as a signal of physiological distress. More importantly, effects of neighborhood disorder on the inflammatory responses and health were not uniform but were most pronounced among unmarried women carrying the minor allele of the IL-6r gene. Finally, while a handful of existing studies support Anderson’s street code thesis, few studies have considered the dynamic nature of street code. I found that adopting the street code is a dynamic process rather than a fixed and stable trait. Moreover, my results demonstrated that the change in adoption of street code over time can be explained by change in socially demoralizing environments. The results support that adherence to code values can be switched over time in accordance with social environmental change.