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Location, Location, Location: The Role of Objective Neighborhood Characteristics for Perceptions of Control

Aufsätze referiert extern - Web of Science

Johanna Drewelies, Peter Eibich, Sandra Düzel, Simone Kühn, Christian Krekel, Jan Goebel, Jens Kolbe, Ilja Demuth, Ulman Lindenberger, Gert G. Wagner, Denis Gerstorf

In: Gerontology 68 (2022), S. 214–223


Introduction: Control beliefs can protect against age-related declines in functioning. It is unclear whether neighborhood characteristics shape how much control people perceive over their life. This article studies associations of neighborhood characteristics with control beliefs of residents of a diverse metropolitan area (Berlin, Germany). Methods: We combine self-report data about perceptions of control obtained from participants in the Berlin Aging Study II (N = 507, 60–87 years, 51% women) with multisource geo-referenced indicators of neighborhood characteristics using linear regression models. Results: Findings indicate that objective neighborhood characteristics (i.e., unemployment rate) are indeed tied to perceptions of control, in particular, how much control participants feel others have over their lives. Including neighborhood characteristics in part doubled the amount of explained variance compared with a reference model covarying for demographic characteristics only (from R2 = 0.017 to R2 = 0.030 for internal control beliefs; R2 = 0.056 to R2 = 0.102 for external control beliefs in chance; R2 = 0.006 to R2 = 0.030 for external control beliefs in powerful others). Discussion/Conclusion: Findings highlight the importance of access to neighborhood resources for control beliefs across old age and can inform interventions to build up neighborhood characteristics which might be especially helpful in residential areas with high unemployment.

Gert G. Wagner

Senior Research Fellow in the German Socio-Economic Panel study Department

Keywords: Aging, Control beliefs, Geocoding, Neighborhood amenities, Green spaces, Berlin Aging Study II