, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 1–31 | Cite as

Sequential Neighborhood Effects: The Effect of Long-Term Exposure to Concentrated Disadvantage on Children’s Reading and Math Test Scores

  • Andrew L. Hicks
  • Mark S. Handcock
  • Narayan Sastry
  • Anne R. PebleyEmail author


Prior research has suggested that children living in a disadvantaged neighborhood have lower achievement test scores, but these studies typically have not estimated causal effects that account for neighborhood choice. Recent studies used propensity score methods to account for the endogeneity of neighborhood exposures, comparing disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged neighborhoods. We develop an alternative propensity function approach in which cumulative neighborhood effects are modeled as a continuous treatment variable. This approach offers several advantages. We use our approach to examine the cumulative effects of neighborhood disadvantage on reading and math test scores in Los Angeles. Our substantive results indicate that recency of exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods may be more important than average exposure for children’s test scores. We conclude that studies of child development should consider both average cumulative neighborhood exposure and the timing of this exposure.


Child Development Neighborhoods Residential histories Propensity function models 



This research began when all authors were affiliated with the California Center for Population Research (CCPR) at UCLA. We greatly appreciate support from CCPR under NICHD Center Grant P2C-HD041022 and from NICHD Grant R25HD076814. It is also partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF, SES-1357619, IIS-1546259) and the NICHD Grant R21HD075714. We are also grateful for assistance from Christine Peterson at RAND and Rachel Veerman at UCLA.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 56 kb)
13524_2017_636_MOESM2_ESM.docx (145 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 145 kb)


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew L. Hicks
    • 1
  • Mark S. Handcock
    • 2
  • Narayan Sastry
    • 3
  • Anne R. Pebley
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Health Care PolicyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.California Center for Population Research and Department of StatisticsUniversity of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Population Studies Center and Survey Research Center Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.California Center for Population Research and Fielding School of Public Health, University of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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