Hispanic Concentration and the Conditional Influence of Collective Efficacy on Adolescent Childbearing

Published in: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, v. 160, no. 9, Sep. 2006, p. 925-930

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Sandra Way, Brian Karl Finch, Deborah A. Cohen

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OBJECTIVE: To determine how Hispanic residential concentration moderates the relationship between neighborhood collective efficacy and teenage birth rates. DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of census tract level survey data and birth records. SETTING: Sixty-five Los Angeles (California) County census tracts in 2000 and 2001. PARTICIPANTS: Measures of neighborhood collective efficacy from 2600 adults from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Study (LAFANS) survey were linked with demographic information from the US 2000 Census and Los Angeles County birth records for 10- through 19-year-old mothers. MAIN EXPOSURES: Collective efficacy and Hispanic residential concentration. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Married and unmarried teenage birth rates. RESULTS: In census tracts with less than a 50% Hispanic population, a 1-SD increase in collective efficacy was associated with a 5.07 births per 1000 decrease in the unmarried teenage birth rate (P<.05). In census tracts with a 50% or greater Hispanic population, a 1-SD increase in collective efficacy was not statistically related to unmarried rates, but it was associated with a 3.43 increase in the married teenage birth rate (P<.05). CONCLUSIONS: Collective efficacy may help reduce adolescent childbearing in some, but not all, neighborhoods. An interaction between collective efficacy and Hispanic population concentration suggests cultural variation may play a role in how collective efficacy influences adolescent fertility. Possible explanations for the positive relationship between collective efficacy and married birth rates found in segregated Hispanic neighborhoods include profertility orientations and availability of childrearing networks for young parents. To help harness social capital to improve public health outcome, the authors suggest future studies examine the role of community cultural variation.

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