Although discussions of poor neighborhoods often assume that their residents are a distinct population trapped in impoverished environments for long durations, no past research has examined longitudinal patterns of residence in poor neighborhoods beyond single-year transitions. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from 1979 to 1990 matched to census tract data, this paper provides the first estimates of duration of stay and rates of re-entry in poor (20%+ poor) and extremely poor (40%+ poor) census tracts. The results indicate that (1) there is great racial inequality in longitudinal patterns of exposure to poorneighborhoods – mostAfrican Americans will live in a poor neighborhood over a 10 year span, contrasted to only 10 percent of whites; (2) exits from high poverty neighborhoods are not uncommon, but re-entries to poor neighborhoods following an exit are also very common, especially among African Americans; and (3) length of spell in a poor neighborhood is positively associated with low income, female headship, and, most of all, black race. Little of the racial difference is accounted for by racial difference in poverty status or family structure. Implications for research and public policy are discussed.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 17, 2004
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