Perceptions of Collective Efficacy Among Single Mothers: Insights for Conceptualization and Measurement

Sheila Barnhart, Michael C. Gearhart, Kathryn Maguire-Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Neighborhoods with higher levels of collective efficacy are associated with more favorable family outcomes such as lower teen pregnancy rates and less antisocial behavior among children. Collective efficacy is traditionally measured by combining the constructs of social cohesion and informal social control, yet these two constructs may have unique influences on family outcomes. While prior studies have examined collective efficacy’s factor structure, there is limited understanding of this construct among single-mother families, who have unique social and economic characteristics. In this exploratory study, we tested a single-factor model and two-factor model separating social cohesion and informal social control to examine the underlying factor structure of collective efficacy with a diverse sample of 2,084 unmarried mothers who participated in the third wave in-home survey of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study. Results support that informal social control and social cohesion were best modeled as two distinct, but related, constructs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4019-4040
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number17
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01HD36916, R01HD39135, and R01HD40421, as well as a consortium of private foundations. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


  • collective efficacy
  • confirmatory factor analysis
  • measurement
  • neighborhood processes
  • single parents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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