The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) is a large-scale, interdisciplinary study of how families, schools, and neighborhoods affect child and adolescent development. It was designed to advance the understanding of the developmental pathways of both positive and negative human social behaviors. In particular, the project examined the causes and pathways of juvenile delinquency, adult crime, substance abuse, and violence. At the same time, the project also provided a detailed look at the environments in which these social behaviors take place by collecting substantial amounts of data about urban Chicago, including its people, institutions, and resources.
PHDCN was directed from the Harvard School of Public Health, and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the National Institute of Mental Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Administration for Children, Youth and Families.
The project design consisted of two major components. The first was an intensive study of Chicago's neighborhood's, particularly the social, economic, organizational, political, and cultural structures and the dynamic changes that take place in the structures over time. The second component was a series of coordinated longitudinal studies that followed over 6,000 randomly selected children, adolescents, and young adults over time to examine the changing circumstances of their lives, as well as the personal characteristics, that might lead them toward or away from a variety of antisocial behaviors.
The Community Surveys measured the structural conditions and organization of neighborhoods in Chicago with respect to the dynamic structure of the local community, the neighborhood organizational and political structures, cultural values, information and formal social control, and social cohesion. The first Community Survey was conducted in 1994-1995 and consisted of household interviews with 8,782 adult Chicago residents from 343 neighborhood clusters.
Systematic Social Observations
Systematic Social Observation (SSO) is a standardized approach for directly observing the physical, social, and economic characteristics of neighborhoods, one block at a time. The main objective of the SSO was to measure the effects of neighborhood characteristics upon young people's development, specifically the variables associated with youth violence. SSO data were collected in 1995 by videotaping and coding characteristics of 80 sampled blocks from 343 neighborhood clusters in Chicago.
Infant Assessment Unit
As part of the Longitudinal Cohort Study, 412 infants from the birth cohort and their primary caregivers were studied during wave 1 (1994-1997) to examine the effects of prenatal and postnatal conditions on the health and cognitive functioning of infants in the first year of life. The Infant Assessment Unit also sought to link early developmental processes and the onset of antisocial behavior and to measure the strength of these relationships. The infants received an assessment between the ages of 5 to 7 months, in addition to the protocol given to all infants in cohort 0 as part of the Longitudinal Cohort Study. Measures assessed visual recognition and memory, physical health and birth complications, temperament, and family environment. Videotaped records were used to record the response of the infant to different types of stimulation, as well as to capture interactions between the parent and infant to determine empathic responsiveness of the parent, encouragement and guidance, and overall psychopathology.
Longitudinal Cohort Study
The Longitudinal Cohort Study collected three waves of data over a period of seven years from a sample of children, adolescents, young adults, and their primary caregivers. Seven randomly-selected cohorts of respondents were selected to study the changing circumstances of their lives and the personal characteristics that may lead them towards or away from a variety of antisocial behaviors. The age cohorts include birth (0), 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 years. Data were collected at three points in time: 1994-1997, 1997-1999, and 2000-20001. Numerous measures were administered to respondents to gauge various aspects of human development, including individual differences, as well as family, peer, and school influences