Does Moving Matter? Measuring Residential Mobility on Children's Mental Health Outcomes

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:42
Oral Presentation
Ashley CALHOUN, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Glenda BABE, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Residential mobility plays a significant role in the mental well-being of children. Children that are highly mobile sustain a breakdown of social support both in familial ties, as well as among peer groups. Since residential mobility is almost always linked with school mobility, this adds an additional layer of complexity in understanding child outcomes (Qin et al, 2009). Previous research indicates that the sociodemographic characteristics of the family play a role in militating the costs of migration. Single-parent families and individuals from lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to be more mobile than individuals from two-parent households and families with higher SES (Mok et al, 2016). Therefore, controlling for parental SES and family structure is crucial in understanding the role of residential mobility on child mental health outcomes. Further, research indicates that children who grow up in affluent neighbourhoods are more likely to do better in school, have better mental health outcomes, and engage in less risky behaviours. Thus, children that experience mobility or remain in high-poverty neighbourhoods may have limited access to good schools, poor social networks, and the lack of economic opportunity, which can lead to poorer outcomes over the life course (Keels, 2008). Using data from all 8 cycles of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, this paper examines the effects of residential mobility on children’s mental health outcomes. In particular, we are following a cohort of children at age 10 and tracking their mental health up to the age of 25. Through this analysis we are comparing children that remain in low-income neighbourhoods versus those that move into more affluent neighbourhoods. This paper furthers our understanding of the mental health outcomes of Canadian children while controlling for socioeconomic and demographic factors such as social support, parental economic, social and cultural capital, family structure, and SES.