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Researcher Tracks the 'Vanishing Neighbor' Effect

Few Americans today say they know their neighbors' names, and far fewer report interacting with them on a daily basis. Pulling data from the General Social Survey, a recent report found that a third said they've never interacted with their neighbors. And only about 20 percent of Americans spent time regularly with the people living next to them. That's a big drop from four decades ago, when a third of Americans hung out with their neighbors at least twice a week, and only a quarter reported no interaction at all.

Public Policy expert Marc Dunkelman noted, "There used to be this necessity to reach out and build bonds with people who lived nearby." Dunkelman added, "[From the 1920s to the 1960s] there was this sort of cohort effect, in which people … were more inclined in many cases to find security that existed in neighborhoods. They depended on one another much more." Little wonder that his book on this subject is titled The Vanishing Neighbor.

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