Rapid Communication

A brief review of neighborhood effect in mental well-being

[Speaker] Airaksinen, Jaakko M:1
1:University of Helsinki, Institute of Behavioural Sciences (Finland)

Environmental psychologist have long recognized differences in mental well-being between neighborhoods. Social scientists have explained these inequalities using neighborhood effects, in other words characteristics of the neighborhoods that affect mental well-being. However, most studies on neighborhood effects have been cross-sectional. Thus, the issue of causality has remained unknown, that is, whether inequalities in mental well-being between neighborhoods are caused by neighborhood characteristics - social causation, or by selective residential mobility - social selection.

This review brings together the latest longitudinal studies of neighborhood effects in mental well-being. Studies using dataset from United States, Australia and Finland that utilize multilevel models and within-individual approach have given stronger support for social selection in neighborhood effects involving mental health. However, the possibility of social causation cannot be completely ruled out as means of explaining differences in mental health between neighborhoods.
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