The Limits of the Deconcentration of Poverty: The Spatial Context of the Poor

Rachel E. Dwyer, Ohio State University

After decades of striking increases in poverty segregation, far fewer poor families were isolated in high-poverty neighborhoods in 2000, after what many argue was a significant deconcentration of poverty in the 1990s. Yet while the deconcentration thesis has been widely accepted, it has been subjected to relatively little empirical analysis and conflicting evidence has not been reconciled. I use U.S. Census summary data for 1980-2000 to undertake a detailed evaluation of the deconcentration of poverty using multiple segregation measures, including indices that include more spatial detail, and examining the comparative context of trends in other forms of segregation. I find that while poverty segregation became less severe in important respects, there were limits to the deconcentration of poverty. In fact, when the full spatial and relational context of the poor is taken into account, along some dimensions the poor became more segregated at the end of the 20th century.

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Presented in Session 27: Spatial Demography