How residential mobility and school choice challenge assumptions of neighborhood place-based interventions

Diana Silver, Beth C. Weitzman, Tod Mijanovich, Martha Holleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Explore the importance of residential mobility and use of services outside neighborhoods when interventions targeting low-income families are planned and implemented. Design: Analysis of cross-sectional telephone household survey data on childhood mobility and school enrollment in four large distressed cities. Setting: Baltimore, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Richmond, Virginia. Subjects: Total of 1723 teens aged 10 to 18 years and their parents. Measures: Continuous self-report of the number of years parents lived in the neighborhood of residence and city; self-report of whether the child attends school in their neighborhood; and categorical self report of parents' marital status, mother's education, parent race, family income, child's age, and child's sex. Analysis: Chi-square and multivariate logistic regression. Results: In this sample, 85.2% of teens reported living in the city where they were born. However, only 44.4% of black teens lived in neighborhoods where they were born, compared with 59.2% of white teens. Although 50.3% of black teens attended schools outside of their current neighborhoods, only 31.4% of whites did. Residential mobility was more common among black than white children (odds ratio = 1.82; p <.001), and black teens had 43% lesser odds of attending school in their home communities. Conclusions: Mobility among low-income and minority families challenges some assumptions of neighborhood interventions premised on years of exposure to enriched services and changes in the built environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-183
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Comprehensive community initiatives
  • Mobility
  • Prevention research
  • School choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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