Examining the Changing Neighborhood-School Link in Gentrifying Areas
Jennifer Candipan

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Southern California

Primary Discipline

In earlier decades, nearly all children attended their neighborhood school. Since the 1990s, however, school choice and private school options have loosened this historically tight relationship. Neighborhoods and schools are both key contexts for children’s well-being, and understanding their links provides insight into how inequalities are produced and sustained. Using multiple quantitative data sources, I examine the neighborhood-school link in three key ways: (1) how similar are the racial/ethnic composition of neighborhoods and their local schools over time?; (2) how do neighborhood characteristics and alternatives to local schools affect where families choose to live and enroll their children?; (3) have the effects of neighborhoods on children’s outcomes changed over time, since schools are increasingly less an institution of neighborhoods? To answer the first two questions, I focus on the roles of neighborhood change (particularly gentrification), changing school attendance boundaries, and the availability of non-local school choice options. As neighborhoods gentrify and become (at least temporarily) more socioeconomically and racially diverse, are these compositional changes reflected in the composition of the local school? Do parents moving into these neighborhoods opt out of local schools for choice alternatives? Does the availability of non-local school options entice parents into gentrifying neighborhoods? Then, I examine whether the strength of neighborhood effects on children’s outcomes has changed as consequence of a potentially weakened neighborhood-school link. Collectively, findings inform policies that bear on neighborhoods and schools, and contribute to our understanding of the complex linkages between housing and education markets.
About Jennifer Candipan
Jennifer Candipan is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Southern California. Her research is broadly interested in social and spatial dimensions of stratification and inequality. Her current work focuses on two particularly salient contexts that contribute to inequalities in children’s outcomes: schools and neighborhoods. Using quantitative and spatial methods, her dissertation examines the links between neighborhood and school composition, with a focus on neighborhoods undergoing economic change, and how neighborhood and school contexts matter for children’s outcomes. In other work, her projects examine dynamics of racial/ethnic transition and neighborhood socioeconomic ascent, the neighborhood context of charter expansion, and links between school choice and segregation in neighborhoods and schools. Her research has previously been funded by an NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant. Jennifer holds a BA in English and an MA in Sociology, also from the University of Southern California.

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