Neighbourhood deprivation effects on young people's mental health and well-being: A systematic review of the literature

Soc Sci Med. 2021 Feb:270:113542. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113542. Epub 2020 Nov 24.


Since the growth of research into neighbourhood effects on young people's health in the 1980s, there have been major societal changes and scientific methodological advancements. In this systematic review we will, therefore, discuss the recent (>2009) literature on the association between neighbourhood deprivation and young people's (0-19 years old) mental health and well-being. We focus on whether neighbourhood deprivation effects exist, and how and for whom the neighbourhood matters. Together, the thirty studies included in the review indicate that overall there are neighbourhood effects on young people's mental health and well-being. The comparison of results from these studies suggests that such associations were more commonly found for well-being and externalising problem behaviour rather than internalising problem behaviour. Also, mental health and well-being seemed to be more often associated with the neighbourhood social environment than neighbourhood socio-economic status and neighbourhood disorder. Studies investigating mediating processes between the linkage between neighbourhood deprivation and mental health and well-being were rare although there was some evidence that processes within the family and peer context are important mechanisms in this linkage. Inconsistent evidence was found regarding the moderating role of age, gender, and ethnicity. There are ongoing challenges of researching the how and for whom neighbourhoods are important. We should work towards rigorous theory and evidence on how different features of residential contexts matter and on differential exposure and vulnerability to these contexts.

Keywords: Mental health and well-being; Neighbourhood deprivation effects; Systematic review; Young people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mental Health*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Social Class
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult