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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adolescent sexual behaviors and neighborhood context : what are the roles of intergenerational closure and social capital? Moore, Lorinda


Neighborhood social capital—resources inherent in social networks—has been shown to be associated with the heath behaviors of neighborhood residents. This association, however, has been found to be both positive and negative, indicating that the ways in which neighborhood networks influence individual health behaviors vary. In this thesis, I formulate and test hypotheses concerning how neighborhood intergenerational closure—the extent to which local parents know each other and their children—and different forms of social capital (social support, social leverage, informal social control, and neighborhood organization participation) may be both positively and negatively associated with adolescent sexual behaviors (engagement in sexual intercourse, number of sexual partners, and condom use). Analyses of multi-level data from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (n=662 adolescents residing in 65 census tracts), indicate that greater intergenerational closure is associated with decreased odds of ever having sex and having inconsistent condom use. By contrast, greater informal social control is associated with increased odds of ever having sex and having inconsistent condom use. Neither intergenerational closure nor any of the four forms of social capital were found to be predictive of number of sexual partners. The findings highlight the complex ways in which the communities in which they reside may influence adolescents’ sexual behaviors.

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