Neighborhood Structural Inequality, Collective Efficacy, and Sexual Risk Behavior among Urban Youth

Christopher Browning, Ohio State University
Tama Leventhal, Tufts University

We draw on collective efficacy theory to extend a contextual model of early adolescent sexual behavior. We hypothesize that neighborhood poverty, residential instability, and aspects of immigrant concentration decrease collective efficacy—or the community-level capacity to provide informal social control of youth. In turn, we expect diminished collective efficacy to influence adolescent sexual partnering. Findings from multinomial logistic regression models of the number of sexual partners among youth from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods reveal evidence of neighborhood effects on adolescent sexual activity. Poverty is positively associated with the number of sexual partners during adolescence. Collective efficacy is negatively associated with having two or more sexual partners and mediates a nontrivial proportion of the effects of poverty. Neighborhood characteristics account for more than half of the positive effect of African American race on sexual partnership reports versus European Americans and render the racial difference insignificant.

  See paper

Presented in Session 98: Neighborhood Processes