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The Geography of Exclusion Race, Segregation, and Concentrated Poverty

Daniel T. Lichter, Domenico Parisi and Michael C. Taquino
Social Problems
Vol. 59, No. 3 (August 2012), pp. 364-388
DOI: 10.1525/sp.2012.59.3.364
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sp.2012.59.3.364
Page Count: 25
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The Geography of Exclusion


The late 2000s Great Recession brought rising neighborhood poverty in the midst of affluence, and the reemergence of a racial and ethnic “underclass” living in inner-city neighborhoods. Our approach redirects attention to a level of geography—cities, suburbs, and small rural towns—where local political and economic decisions effectively exclude the poor and minority populations. It uses newly released poverty data from the 2005–2009 American Community Survey to provide evidence of changing macro patterns of spatially concentrated poverty. We show that roughly one in four U.S. places had poverty rates exceeding 20 percent in 2005 through 2009, up 31 percent since 2000. Roughly 30 percent of America's poor reside in poor places, and concentrated poverty is especially high among poor African Americans. Overall increases in place-based poverty nonetheless were muted over the decade by declines in concentrated poverty among poor Hispanics (a pattern that reflects spatial diffusion to new destinations). We also show that America's poor were sorted unevenly from place-to-place within local labor markets (i.e., counties); poor-nonpoor segregation rates between places increased from 12.6 to 18.4 between 1990 and the 2005–2009 period. Segregation was especially high among disadvantaged blacks and Hispanics. Our empirical results make a case for more scholarly attention on newly emerging patterns of concentrated poverty at the place level.

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