Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Committee Director

Randy R. Gainey

Committee Member

Scott R. Maggard

Committee Member

Brad E. Lian


Studies of residential mobility amongst disadvantaged populations and juveniles in particular have attracted a great deal of attention with projects such as the Moving to Opportunity Study and policies aimed at reducing concentrated disadvantage by providing alternative housing assistance to low-income families. The results of these studies, however, have been inconclusive and have often not concentrated on the effects of this mobility on a broad spectrum of delinquent behaviors. Previous studies have found that residential mobility negatively affects juveniles, while other studies find that there is little effect after controlling for a wide variety of variables with scant theoretical considerations regarding modeling.

This dissertation sought to address these gaps and deficiencies in the literature by examining the effects of residential mobility on a sample of highly impoverished youth by analyzing a variety of delinquent behaviors with theoretically relevant variables in order to better understand the mechanisms driving delinquent behavior. In order to test hypotheses developed from these questions, longitudinal binary and ordinal mixed-effects logit models were utilized on data drawn from the Mobile Youth Survey, which was conducted in areas of extreme poverty.

The findings of the current research demonstrated that residential mobility has a weak and inconsistent effect between types of delinquent behavior. Theoretically relevant variables comprised of social bonding and strain constructs were found to mediate the significant relationship for several delinquent outcomes, indicating that these variables play a critical role in predicting delinquent behavior rather than residential mobility. Low correlations between residential mobility and delinquent outcomes indicated that for this particular population, mobility has a differential effect compared to higher socioeconomic groups analyzed in previous studies.

Conclusions and implications of the current study suggested that residential mobility is not a particular concern regarding highly impoverished populations. Policies aimed at moving individuals to better neighborhoods would not have a negative effect due to the stress of moving. Addressing strain and the attenuation of social bonds would be more effective at preventing juvenile delinquency even if that means displacement of the individuals into environments that provide opportunities for the creation of stronger social bonds and lessened strain.


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