The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods is an interdisciplinary study aimed at deepening society's understanding of the causes and pathways of juvenile delinquency, adult crime, substance abuse, and violence. In particular, it is a study of children's social and psychological development from birth to young adulthood in urban neighborhoods. The project sought to answer the following questions: (1) Why does one community have a high rate of crime, violence, and substance abuse, while a similar community nearby is relatively stable? (2) What factors enable some individuals to live successful, productive lives, even in high-risk neighborhoods? (3) Why does one young person experiment only briefly with delinquency, while another goes on to a criminal career? The survey gathered information from adult residents of Chicago on their perceptions of the neighborhoods in which they live. The researchers sought to use these data to create reliable and valid measures of neighborhood social context. Researchers were interested in measuring how neighborhood social organization related to crime, violence, and victimization. They also aimed to examine how neighborhood social organization was related to social disorder, cynicism regarding the legal system, dissatisfaction with the police, and tolerance of deviance.
The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods was designed to administer a series of cross-sectional community studies in the same area and at the same time as a comprehensive longitudinal study on risk factors and manifestations of antisocial behavior and substance abuse. The overarching goal was to complete five or more annual waves of data collection over an eight-year period for multiple age groups, employing an accelerated longitudinal design, while simultaneously studying organizational changes in the urban context in which these young people were growing up. This data collection contains the first cross-sectional survey from this project. The survey questionnaire was a multidimensional assessment by Chicago residents of the structural conditions and organization of their neighborhoods in 1994. Neighborhoods were operationally defined as 343 clusters of census tracts, referred to as "neighborhood clusters." Data collection consisted of a household interview of residents aged 18 and older to assess key neighborhood dimensions, including the dynamic structure of the local community, organizational and political structure, cultural values, informal social control, formal social control, and social cohesion. The community survey instrument included measures of perceived crime and violence in the community, ratings of social order (gang activity, graffiti, unruly teens), normative beliefs about violence, and crime-specific indicators of victimization, available resources, norms, and social organization.
Stratified random sampling.
All adult residents of Chicago in 1994.
City-level variables measure the best and worst aspects of living in Chicago for the interviewed residents. Variables relating to neighborhood structure include how residents define their neighborhoods, how long they have lived in a particular neighborhood, characteristics of their neighborhood, including types of social service agencies available, and if they would consider moving to a different neighborhood and why. Other community variables measure the relationships among neighbors, including how many neighbors a respondent would recognize, how often neighbors socialized, and how often neighbors participated in other activities together. Variables that capture neighborhood social order include respondents' perceptions of neighborhood problems such as litter, graffiti, drinking, drugs, and excessive use of force by police. Respondents were also asked about their normative beliefs regarding violence, money, and various children's behaviors. Victimization variables cover how often the respondent was the victim of a fight with a weapon, a violent argument, a gang fight, sexual assault, robbery, theft, or vandalism. Other variables measure fear of crime and attitudes toward the police. Demographic variables include age, gender, education, living arrangement, national origin, and employment status.
Several Likert-type scales were used.