Analysis of Neighborhood Effects in Educational Research

Instructor: Dr. Jaap Nieuwenhuis (TU Delft, Netherlands)



Socio-economic segregation in cities is reflected in great differences between neighborhoods and the people within them. While some youth grow up in poor neighborhoods with high levels of unemployment, crime, and other social problems, other youth grow up in wealthy areas where these problems do not exist. Educational attainment of youth is often linked to the residential neighborhood in which they grow up. Youth often go to school in/near their neighborhood, but also many social-interactive mechanisms can play a role on the neighborhood-level, such as social control and peer influences. In recent decades an abundance of scientific literature was produced studying how neighborhood contexts relate to individual (educational) outcomes, which resulted in the development of policy interventions based on the idea that neighborhoods play an important role in shaping individuals.

The focus of this module will be on understanding the key aspects of studying neighborhood effects in educational research. First, to understand why we study neighborhoods it is crucial to understand the potential causal pathways between neighborhood contexts and educational outcomes. Second, the evidence base for neighborhood effects will be discussed. Third, estimating neighborhood effects properly can be challenging, therefore, topics such as causality, selection bias, measurement, and publication bias will be discussed. Finally, we will discuss potential future directions.


Required literature for preparation:

Dietz, R.D., 2002: The estimation of neighborhood effects in the social sciences: An interdisciplinary approach. Social Science Research 31: 539-575. (

Galster, G.C., 2012: The mechanism(s) of neighbourhood effects: Theory, evidence, and policy implications. 23-56 in: M. van Ham et al. (eds.), Neighbourhood effects research: New perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer. ( 007-2309-2_2).