The term “gentrification” carries conflicting popular connotations, conjuring images of both revitalization and displacement. Despite a rich critical literature from urban social scientists, gentrification as it relates to rural housing and rural development is a similarly conflicted term. With the frequent conflation of rural gentrification and economic improvement, researchers and policy-makers alike need more nuanced techniques for identifying how the process distributes costs and benefits across households. This paper operationalizes rural gentrification as a specific demographic pattern of household migration, termed the “Rural Gentrification Score,” and maps its footprint between 1980 and 2000 in 25 US states. It then uses census data to better understand the impacts of rural gentrification on home values in rural counties, interrogating the popular notion that homeowners benefit from gentrification. Using comparative analyses, two related hypotheses about rural gentrification and inequality are explored: (1) that gentrified rural counties were susceptible to greater home value segregation and (2) that over time gentrification’s spread culminated in greater homogeneity of home values. Results support each of these hypotheses and point to nuances in the relationship between population turnover, inequality, and socioeconomic context. Most notably the findings highlight a spatial and temporal pattern of widening wealth inequality in gentrifying rural counties.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 18, 2015
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