Racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and adolescent substance use

Abigail A. Fagan, Emily M. Wright, Gillian M. Pinchevsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Although social disorganization theory hypothesizes that neighborhood characteristics influence youth delinquency, the impact of neighborhood disadvantage on adolescent substance use and racial/ethnic differences in this relationship have not been widely investigated. The present study examines these issues using longitudinal data from 1,856 African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian adolescents participating in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN). The results indicated that neighborhood disadvantage did not significantly increase the likelihood of substance use for the full sample. When relationships were analyzed by race/ethnicity, one significant (p ≤.10) effect was found; disadvantage increased alcohol use among African Americans only. The size of this effect differed significantly between African American and Hispanic youth. In no other cases did race/ethnicity moderate the impact of disadvantage on substance use. These results suggest that disadvantage is not a strong predictor of adolescent substance use, although other features of the neighborhood may affect such behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-84
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Neighborhood disadvantage
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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