Predicting Movement of Homeless Young Adults: Artificial Neural Networks and Generalized Linear Models

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Graduate School of Social Work


Previous research has indicated high rates of intercity movement among homeless young adults (HYAs) for a variety of prosocial (e.g., avoiding domestic violence and seeking new employment opportunities) and antisocial (e.g., following drug supplies and avoiding law enforcement) reasons. The complicated mixture of individual circumstances associated with transience has made it difficult to predict features of transience, such as distance traveled and move frequency. Method: This study describes a method to build an artificial neural network (ANN) that predicts distance traveled and compares the results of thatANN to a generalized linear regression. Results: The ANN more accurately predicts distance traveled than does the linear statistical model and advances the development of approaches to predict complicated human phenomena. Conclusions: Accurately predicting features of transience among HYAs is important in tailoring effective interventions aimed at minimizing travel for negative reasons and making travel for positive reasons safer.

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