Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Studies and Public Affairs


Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs

First Advisor

Tighe, J. Rosie


Individuals’ residential location strongly affects their personal access to opportunity, such as obtaining sufficient public goods and services. In addition, the neighborhood environment shapes the outcomes of their children when they reach adulthood. One explanation for these neighborhood effects on children is social capital. This study reconceptualizes social capital based on Pierre Bourdieu’s Capital theory (1984; 2011) to resolve unexplained gaps in existing social capital theory and aims to analyze empirically the impact of various forms of neighborhood social capital in childhood on adult outcomes. This study categorizes social capital into two types: relation-based social capital (relationships within a neighborhood) and descriptive neighborhood social capital (the neighborhood location and its resources). This research quantitatively measures these two types of childhood social capital and examines its effects on adult outcomes, showing how a lack of cumulative resources creates unequal access to opportunities. This study uses Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to determine the role neighborhood social capital plays in unequal access to neighborhood resources. This approach shows both direct and indirect effects of each form of neighborhood social capital on adult outcomes. Also, how childhood neighborhood social capital mitigate or promote its effects on adult outcomes. Results indicate that a lack of cumulative resources creates unequal access to opportunities. It also shows the ways in which childhood neighborhood attachment acts as a mediator of that relationship. Even if vii residents have access to neighborhood resources, the impact of neighborhood social capital can vary depending on whether they experience relationships within a neighborhood or not. This research contributes to the literature in two ways, by showing: 1) how the embeddedness of social capital creates unequal access to neighborhood resources, and 2) how the embeddedness of neighborhood social capital impacts adult outcomes.