Jennifer Ailshire (Center of Biodemography and Population Health, School of Gerontology, University of Southern California)
02-15-2010, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.
Neighborhoods play a central role in shaping the social experiences, health and well being of residents, and may factor importantly in forming and sustaining social relationships. However, research on the link between neighborhoods and relationships has been largely absent. This study uses data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study (2001-2002) to examine the relationship between social engagement and neighborhood social environment. Social engagement includes level of social participation, frequency of social interactions, and feelings of loneliness. Both objective and subjective assessments of neighborhood social cohesion and reciprocal exchange are used to characterize the neighborhood environment. Multilevel analysis is conducted to examine the association between individual social engagement and neighborhood social context. Results show that neighborhood cohesion is associated with more social interaction and less loneliness and reciprocal exchange is associated with more social participation and interaction, even after accounting for individual characteristics. Compared to objectively assessed neighborhood characteristics, subjective perceptions of neighborhood social context appear to be more strongly related to social engagement.