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J Health Soc Behav. 2013;54(4):481-97. doi: 10.1177/0022146513504761.

The impact of neighborhood composition on work-family conflict and distress.

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  • 11McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.


Theories of work-family conflict (WFC) and health remain limited because they emphasize individual-level antecedents to the exclusion of broader contexts, such as residential neighborhoods. We address this issue by focusing on the impact of neighborhood social composition on WFC. Among couples with children we assess whether socially similar neighbors relative to oneself reduce perceptions and mental health consequences of WFC, and whether these associations differ by gender. We argue that the convergence of similarities in residents' features relative to the respondent's own may affect WFC by influencing normative expectations about work and family, and assumptions of available support. We use data on intact families with at least one child between the ages of 9 and 16 from Toronto, Canada, linked to census data. Results highlight that greater similarity between respondents and residents reduces perceptions and consequences of WFC for women but not men. We discuss these findings in relation to neighborhood effects and mental health literature.


gender differences; mental health; neighborhood effects; social composition; work-family conflict

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