J Epidemiol Community Health 55:246-250 doi:10.1136/jech.55.4.246
  • Research report

Neighbourhood level and individual level SES effects on child problem behaviour: a multilevel analysis


OBJECTIVE This study examined whether neighbourhood level socioeconomic variables have an independent effect on reported child behaviour problems over and above the effect of individual level measures of socioeconomic status.

DESIGN AND SETTING Multilevel analysis of cross sectional survey data relating individual level child behavioural problems and parental measures of socioeconomic status with neighbourhood level measures of socioeconomic deprivation in the city of Maastricht, the Netherlands.

PARTICIPANTS Children born in the years 1990–1991 attending the second grade of normal kindergarten schools in the city of Maastricht, the Netherlands. Out of 1417 eligible 5–7 year olds, the parents of 734 children (51.8%) agreed to participate.

MAIN RESULTS Child behaviour problems were more frequent in families of low parental occupation and education (F=14.51, df 3, 721, p<0.001; F=12.20, df 3, 721, p<0.001, respectively) and in families living in deprived neighbourhoods (F=13.26, df 2, 722, p<0.001). Multilevel random effects regression analysis showed that the effect of neighbourhood level deprivation remained after adjustment for individual level socioeconomic status (B over three levels of deprivation: 1.36; 95%CI=0.28, 2.45).

CONCLUSIONS Living in a more deprived neighbourhood is associated with higher levels of child problem behaviour, irrespective of individual level socioeconomic status. The additional effect of the neighbourhood may be attributable to contextual variables such as the level of social cohesion among residents.


  • Funding: this study was financially supported by the Profilerings Fund of the Academic Hospital of Maastricht, the Netherlands, the Dutch Prevention Fund, and the Faculty of Medicine of Maasricht University, the Netherlands.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.