NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Who Gentrifies Low-Income Neighborhoods?

Terra McKinnish, Randall Walsh, Kirk White

NBER Working Paper No. 14036
Issued in May 2008
NBER Program(s):   LS   PE

This paper uses confidential Census data, specifically the 1990 and 2000 Census Long Form data, to study the demographic processes underlying the gentrification of low-income urban neighborhoods during the 1990's. In contrast to previous studies, the analysis is conducted at the more refined census-tract level with a narrower definition of gentrification and more closely matched comparison neighborhoods. The analysis is also richly disaggregated by demographic characteristic, uncovering differential patterns by race, education, age and family structure that would not have emerged in the more aggregate analysis in previous studies. The results provide no evidence of displacement of low-income non-white households in gentrifying neighborhoods. The bulk of the increase in average family income in gentrifying neighborhoods is attributed to black high school graduates and white college graduates. The disproportionate retention and income gains of the former and the disproportionate in-migration of the latter are distinguishing characteristics of gentrifying U.S. urban neighborhoods in the 1990's.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14036

Published: McKinnish, Terra & Walsh, Randall & Kirk White, T., 2010. "Who gentrifies low-income neighborhoods?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 180-193, March.

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