Neighborhood Through a Familial Lens: Examining the Intergenerational Transmission of Collective Efficacy

  • Gregory M. ZimmermanEmail author
  • Riley Tucker
  • Jacob I. Stowell
Original Article



Despite the rich history of empirical research on neighborhood collective efficacy, studies considering the factors that contribute to collective efficacy formation at the individual level have yet to account for family members’ perceptions of collective efficacy. This study examines whether individuals form perceptions of neighborhood collective efficacy through knowledge of their geographic locales or via the intra-familial transmission of perceptions of collective efficacy.


This study appends information from the following three distinct samples of adults in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN): 349 young adult respondents, their primary caregivers (n = 349), and an independent sample of over 8000 adults distributed across 146 neighborhoods. Interviews with respondents (average age 20 years; 53.87% female) and their primary caregivers were conducted from 2000 to 2002. Regression analysis adjusting for clustering and mediation macros was utilized to examine the research questions.


At baseline, neighborhood collective efficacy was associated with respondents’ perceptions of collective efficacy. The impact of neighborhood collective efficacy, however, was mediated completely by parents’ perceptions of collective efficacy. Parents’ perceptions of collective efficacy, family support, and concentrated disadvantage were the strongest predictors of respondents’ perceptions of collective efficacy.


Findings suggest that neighborhood collective efficacy can be altered through family processes as well as by changing the structural characteristics of broader social settings. Increasing collective efficacy—and social capital more generally—may be best facilitated intergenerationally from parents to their children.


context neighborhood perceptions collective efficacy Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods 



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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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