The Stability of Mixed-Income Neighborhoods

Laura M. Tach, Harvard University

The landscape of urban poverty in America has changed dramatically as public housing projects have been demolished and replaced with mixed-income housing, yet there is little research on mixed-income neighborhoods outside of project-specific policy evaluations. In this paper, I examine the extent and stability of income-mixing within neighborhoods using Census data from 1970 to 2000. I find that economic diversity within neighborhoods is both common and fluid. At the same time, there is almost no complete neighborhood economic succession because economic change is slow and nonlinear. Mixed-income neighborhoods are difficult to sustain because the forces that increase diversity in low-income neighborhoods also decrease diversity in high-income neighborhoods. Majority black mixed-income neighborhoods are particularly unstable. In contrast, neighborhood economic diversity is higher and more stable in areas with lower crime rates and more immigrants.

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Presented in Session 139: Residential Mobility and Neighborhood Change