Population Research and Policy Review 22: 147–170, 2003.
© 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Economic changes in Canadian neighborhoods
ERIC FONG & KUMIKO SHIBUYA
University of Toronto
Abstract. In this paper, we addressed three questions. First, how transient are poor neigh-
borhoods? Second, is the distribution of different racial and ethnic groups affected unequally
by changes in the economic status of neighborhoods? Third, what is the relative importance
of the neighborhood life cycle, invasion-succession and spatial effect models in explaining
the transition of poor neighborhoods? Based on 1986 and 1991 Canadian census data, we
found that the poverty rates of a substantial percentage of neighborhoods changed during
the ﬁve years. We also found a consistent pattern that early immigrant groups (i.e., British,
Western, and Northern Europeans) have the highest percentage of members living in non-poor
neighborhoods. At the other end of the continuum, two visible minority groups, blacks and
East and Southeast Asians, have the highest percentage of members living in very poor neigh-
borhoods. In addition, as suggested by the invasion-succession model, the proportion of visible
minorities in neighborhoods strongly affects the neighborhood poverty levels. Implications of
the ﬁndings are discussed.
Economic residential segregation is a major concern among social scient-
ists and policy makers because living in poor neighborhoods has undeniably
adverse effects on the economic and social well being of individuals (Chase-
Lansdale, et al. 1997; Massey & Shibuya 1995; Krivo & Peterson 1996;
Massey & Denton 1993; Sampson & Wilson 1995; Jencks & Mayer 1990).
The problem is becoming more serious, as research is documenting an alarm-
ing trend of more families living in poor neighborhoods (Jargowsky 1997;
Massey & Eggers 1990). In the United States, Jargowsky (1997) has docu-
mented that the number of individuals living in poor neighborhoods doubled
from 1970 to 1990, and the number of poor tracts increased 30% during the
same period. Massey and Eggers’ (1990) study of the spatial concentration of
poverty of whites, blacks, Asians and Hispanics in the 1970s showed that poor
blacks were increasingly separated from other classes and that concentration
of poverty among poor Hispanics is pronounced in the Northeast. Poor whites
and Asians did not suffer much from the poverty concentration. The ﬁndings
echo those of St. John and Miller (1995), that black and Hispanic children are
more likely to reside in urban ghettos.