Neighborhood Economic Change in an Era of Metropolitan Divergence

Jared Schachner , Harvard University

Urban scholars’ dominant focus on neighborhood- and macro-level patterns and predictors of neighborhood economic stratification obscures the metropolitan area's role. This paper applies a metro-level lens to neighborhood change by: distinguishing between neighborhoods' income shifts relative to their metro-specific distribution (local fluidity) and to the national distribution (national mobility); estimating variation in each outcome across metros; and decomposing each axis of variation as a function of neighborhood- and metro-level factors. Multilevel analysis of census and Equality of Opportunity Project data reveals that 7% and 14% of the variation in local fluidity and national mobility resides between, rather than within, metros. Metro-level estimates of each outcome are weakly correlated, suggesting distinct processes drive each. Place stratification and ecological context accounts of spatial inequality illuminate metro variation in local fluidity and national mobility, respectively. These insights motivate finer-grained multilevel models that clarify the drivers and consequences of various types of neighborhood change.

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 Presented in Session 3. Change and Stability in American Neighborhood