Neighborhood-level cohesion and disorder: measurement and validation in two older adult urban populations

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2009 May;64(3):415-24. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbn041. Epub 2009 Mar 2.


Objectives: Drawing from collective efficacy and social disorganization theories, we developed and validated measures of neighborhood-level social processes.

Methods: Data came from 2 large, population-based cohort studies of urban-dwelling older adults, the Chicago Neighborhood and Disability Study (CNDS, n = 3,882) and the Baltimore Memory Study (BMS, n = 1,140). Data on neighborhood social processes were collected from residents using a standardized instrument identical in the 2 studies. We used confirmatory factor analysis and descriptive statistics to explore reliability and validity of the neighborhood-level measures.

Results: Confirmatory factor analysis indicated 2 latent factors: social cohesion and exchange (i.e., observations of and interactions with neighbors) and social and physical disorder (i.e., neighborhood problems and unsafe conditions). Neighborhood-level measures of cohesion and disorder showed moderate to high levels of internal consistency (alphas = .78 and .85 in CNDS and .60 and .88 in BMS). Inter-resident agreements were low (intra-neighborhood correlation coefficients = .08 and .11 in CNDS and .05 and .33 in BMS). Cohesion showed a modest, positive association with a composite measure of neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES). Disorder showed a strong, negative association with neighborhood SES.

Conclusions: Findings provide initial evidence of the reliability and construct validity of these neighborhood-level social process measures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Anomie*
  • Baltimore
  • Chicago
  • Cognition
  • Cohort Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Social Identification*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population*