There is a strong belief among academics and policy makers that living in deprived neighbourhoods has a negative effect on residents’ life chances over and above the effect of their individual characteristics: so-called neighbourhood effects. The concept of neighbourhood effects – as an independent residential and social environment effect on individual outcomes – is academically intriguing, but has also been embraced by policy makers, mainly in connection with unemployment and a lack of social mobility. The neighbourhood effects discourse has had a major impact on urban and neighbourhood policies and has influenced governments to spend large sums of money on area based policies. A small but growing critical literature, questions the evidence base of neighbourhood effects. Although it is likely that neighbourhood effects exist, we do not know enough about the causal mechanisms which produce them, their relative importance compared to individual characteristics such as education, and under which circumstances and where these effects are important. This interdisciplinary and international proposal argues that in order to further our understanding of neighbourhood effects, and to provide a solid and sophisticated evidence base for policies aimed at deconcentrating poverty, we should investigate the effects of selection mechanisms into and out of neighbourhoods. NBHCHOICE has three objectives 1) to further develop the theoretical framework linking neighbourhood choice and neighbourhood effects 2) to empirically investigate neighbourhood choice over the life course, and 3) to integrate models of neighbourhood choice with models of neighbourhood effects. The project will use large longitudinal datasets from The Netherlands, UK and Sweden and will bring together researchers from various countries. NBHCHOICE will contribute to the development of theory, to more targeted and effective policy measures, to the career development of the applicant, and to the host institute.
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