American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 50, Issue 1–2, pp 197–210 | Cite as

Family Affluence, School and Neighborhood Contexts and Adolescents’ Civic Engagement: A Cross-National Study

  • Michela LenziEmail author
  • Alessio Vieno
  • Douglas D. Perkins
  • Massimo Santinello
  • Frank J. Elgar
  • Antony Morgan
  • Sonia Mazzardis
Original Paper


Research on youth civic engagement focuses on individual-level predictors. We examined individual- and school-level characteristics, including family affluence, democratic school social climate and perceived neighborhood social capital, in their relation to civic engagement of 15-year-old students. Data were taken from the 2006 World Health Organization Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey. A sample of 8,077 adolescents in 10th grade from five countries (Belgium, Canada, Italy, Romania, England) were assessed. Multilevel models were analyzed for each country and across the entire sample. Results showed that family affluence, democratic school climate and perceived neighborhood social capital positively related to participation in community organizations. These links were stronger at the aggregate contextual than individual level and varied by country. Canadian youth participated most and Romanian youth least of the five countries. Gender predicted engagement in two countries (girls participate more in Canada, boys in Italy). Findings showed significant contributions of the social environment to adolescents’ engagement in their communities.


Civic engagement Family affluence School Neighborhood Adolescence Participation 


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Copyright information

© Society for Community Research and Action 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michela Lenzi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alessio Vieno
    • 1
  • Douglas D. Perkins
    • 2
  • Massimo Santinello
    • 1
  • Frank J. Elgar
    • 3
  • Antony Morgan
    • 4
  • Sonia Mazzardis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Social PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Center for Community StudiesVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Health and Social Policy and Douglas Mental Health University InstituteMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Karolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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