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Soc Sci Res. 2012 Jul;41(4):788-801. Epub 2012 Jan 30.

Neighborhood poverty and children's exposure to danger: Examining gender differences in impacts of the Moving to Opportunity experiment.

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  • 1University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work, 2117 Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, United States.


The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program offered public housing residents in distressed communities a chance to move to low-poverty neighborhoods. The present study examined whether the resulting decline in neighborhood poverty led to lower levels of exposure to danger among children and youth ages 8-19years old (n=4606), and specifically, if there was a gender difference that matched the pattern of more beneficial program effects for girls and more adverse affects for boys. The study goes beyond previous research by using fixed effects to control for family factors that may influence moving behavior and confound estimates of gender differences in program impacts. Results showed that children experienced a decline in exposure to danger, with one key gender difference. Models based on brother-sister comparisons indicated that MTO had a more beneficial impact on exposure to drug activity for females than males. The findings suggest that neighborhood poverty is tied to children's exposure to danger. Moreover, exposure to drug activity may help explain the gender differences in impacts on children's mental health and risky behavior.

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