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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2009 May;64(3):415-24. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbn041. Epub 2009 Mar 2.

Neighborhood-level cohesion and disorder: measurement and validation in two older adult urban populations.

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Department of Health Studies, The University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC 2007, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.



Drawing from collective efficacy and social disorganization theories, we developed and validated measures of neighborhood-level social processes.


Data came from 2 large, population-based cohort studies of urban-dwelling older adults, the Chicago Neighborhood and Disability Study (CNDS, n = 3,882) and the Baltimore Memory Study (BMS, n = 1,140). Data on neighborhood social processes were collected from residents using a standardized instrument identical in the 2 studies. We used confirmatory factor analysis and descriptive statistics to explore reliability and validity of the neighborhood-level measures.


Confirmatory factor analysis indicated 2 latent factors: social cohesion and exchange (i.e., observations of and interactions with neighbors) and social and physical disorder (i.e., neighborhood problems and unsafe conditions). Neighborhood-level measures of cohesion and disorder showed moderate to high levels of internal consistency (alphas = .78 and .85 in CNDS and .60 and .88 in BMS). Inter-resident agreements were low (intra-neighborhood correlation coefficients = .08 and .11 in CNDS and .05 and .33 in BMS). Cohesion showed a modest, positive association with a composite measure of neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES). Disorder showed a strong, negative association with neighborhood SES.


Findings provide initial evidence of the reliability and construct validity of these neighborhood-level social process measures.

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