Neighbourhood deprivation and self-esteem: is there equalisation in early adolescence?
Background - Residents of more deprived and socially fragmented neighbourhoods are more likely to suffer from poor physical health and severe psychiatric morbidity than individuals living in more affluent and socially cohesive neighbourhoods. However, this pattern is less clear for more common psychological outcomes such as depression, anxiety and psychological traits such as self-esteem in early adolescence. In particular, the relationship between adolescent mental health and psychological traits may vary by national context. Two hypotheses broadly frame these variations: the deprivation amplification hypothesis and the socio-economic equalisation in youth hypothesis. Specifically, deprivation amplification is supported for adolescents in the U.S, while equalisation hypothesis appears to be supported outside that national context. Aims - The study aims to extend existing international research by addressing three research questions using data on adolescents aged 10-15 in the UK and Canada. 1. Is there support for socio-economic equalisation in early adolescent self-esteem in the UK and Canada across household socio-economic status and neighbourhood deprivation? 2. Is support for equalisation consistent across the socio-geographic levels of family, neighbourhood, region and nation? 3. Is there evidence for prospective associations between adolescent self-esteem and socio-geographic processes of neighbourhood context, composition, health selective migration and socio-geographic mobility in the UK and Canada? 6 Methods - Two longitudinal datasets, the British Youth Panel (UK) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (Canada) were analysed using multilevel logistic regression and cluster-adjusted multinomial logistic regression models. Results – Contrary to prevailing deprivation amplification hypothesis, self-esteem was not inversely associated with neighbourhood deprivation and social fragmentation neighbourhoods in both countries either prior to, or after controlling for individual and family characteristics. In fact, living in the least deprived 20% of Canadian neighbourhoods was associated with lower self-esteem in boys. Other than this, neighbourhood composition accounted for all significant associations with self-esteem. However, low teenage self-esteem was associated with subsequent household socio-geographic mobility, an effect explained by family factors. In addition, moving to more socially fragmented neighbourhoods is associated with low self-esteem but moving to more materially deprived neighbourhoods is not, independently of individual and family variables. Discussion and conclusions – Results are discussed with reference to the implications for deprivation amplification and socio-economic equalisation in youth hypotheses. Contributions to health geography and limitations of the study are then addressed before policy implications are considered.
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