Dropout legacy: exploring the effects of historic neighborhood contexts on contemporary individual and neighborhood dropout behavior
This dissertation adds a temporal understanding to current neighborhood effects literature. The main research question of this dissertation project is: What are the effects of neighborhood structure and historical context on contemporary individual and neighborhood outcomes, especially educational outcomes measured by dropout behavior? In order to address this question, the three main research aims presented here are 1) to determine the predictors of a neighborhood experiencing substantial decreases in their dropout rates; 2) to determine the effect of persistently high dropout rates on individual student outcomes; and 3) to examine how neighborhood development policies contribute to the spatial clustering of poverty in the specific case study of Bexar County, Texas. The dissertation introduces the concept of legacy of place, with special emphasis on dropout legacy, which further enhances knowledge about the role neighborhood context plays in determining individual educational outcomes. The unique dataset combining data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 and the Neighborhood Change Database allows for the inclusion of dropout legacy effects into traditional educational attainment models. With the development of the concept of dropout legacy, larger social processes like institutional racism can be better understood. This dissertation has policy implications for general neighborhood development, retention and graduation policies, and developing strategies to break cycles of dropout behavior in neighborhoods. This project also creates other avenues for research in neighborhood effects literature and in policy development targeting neighborhood composition/segregation.