Neighborhood Disadvantage and Self-Esteem—Do Socioeconomic and Relational Resources Matter?

Joongbaeck Kim, Manacy Pai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extensive research suggests that living in a socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhood is associated with poor mental health. Few studies, however, have examined (1) whether neighborhood disadvantage is associated with residents’ self-esteem; and (2) the extent to which individual-level socioeconomic resources such as income and education, and relational resources such as marriage and social support moderate the association between neighborhood disadvantage and self-esteem. This study employs data from the Americans’ Changing Lives panel survey (hereafter ACL), a 15-year panel study of the U.S. adult population ages 25 and older in original sample. Because hierarchical linear model was employed to analyze data, findings provide fixed effect coefficients for independent variables at both the individual and census tract levels while controlling for random intercepts between census tracts. Findings based on data from the 4th wave of ACL reveal that neighborhood disadvantage is not associated with self-esteem. We do, however, find that living in a disadvantaged neighborhood worsens self-esteem for those who have lower levels of informal social support and are currently unmarried. These findings imply that while neighborhood disadvantage does not necessarily impact self-esteem, neighborhood disadvantage is detrimental to the self-esteem of those who report lower level of relational resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-329
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Promotion
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Neighborhood disadvantage
  • buffering hypothesis
  • marital status
  • self-esteem
  • social support
  • status discrepancy hypothesis


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