How Residential Mobility and School Choice Challenge Assumptions of Neighborhood Place-Based Interventions

Health interventions that are long-term and place-based are embraced as providing low-income families with comprehensive services. To better understand the benefits from these services, this study assesses the role of residential mobility and the use of services outside neighborhoods.

Survey data was taken from the 2004-2005 Survey of Adults and Youth (SAY). This study specifically looked at cross-sectional data of teens aged 10 to 18 from Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Richmond, Va. SAY sampling generated 1,723 telephone interviews with parents in the four cities. Nearly 70 percent of parents interviewed were Black; 45 percent had a household income of less than $29,999 annually; and half had a high school education or less.

Key Findings:

  • Among children whose mothers had less than a high school education, less than 40 percent were born in their current neighborhood, as compared to 52.7 percent of children whose mothers had graduated from college.
  • Children of White mothers were more likely to live in the same neighborhood throughout their childhood (59.2%) compared to children of Black mothers (44.4%).
  • Children whose mothers had not completed high school were 69 percent less likely to attend school outside their neighborhood.
  • Compared to children with White mothers, children with Black mothers had 43 percent lesser odds of attending school outside of the neighborhood.

The scale of mobility among families, especially among poor and low-income families, can inform neighborhood interventions.