Comparing maps of urban poverty from 1980 and 2010

These new maps of urban poverty show how poverty has changed in the last thirty years:

Poverty in the United States doesn’t look like it did just a few decades ago. In many metro areas, it touches more people today than in 1980. The demographics have changed too, with new and expanding communities of the Hispanic poor in cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas. And the geography has shifted – as we’ve previously written, following the work of Brookings Institution researchers Alan Berube and Elizabeth Kneebone, poverty now stretches well into the suburbs…

In some cities, like Milwaukee, it remains racially segregated, with the black poor living in one part of town, the white poor in another, and the Hispanic and Asian poor in separate pockets. In other cities, like Houston, racially diverse families living under the poverty line appear to share some of the same neighborhoods…

All of these pictures underscore why policy solutions created to address poverty years ago may not be well suited to the task today.

Research on urban poverty in the 1980s was largely focused on poor, black neighborhoods. This was the era of work by sociologists like William Julius Wilson, Paul Jargowsky, Doug Massey and Nancy Denton, and others who turned their attention to hyperconcentrated poverty which was largely ignored by the public and policymakers. As these maps illustrate, poverty today is much more complex involving different groups in new locations. In other words, our public understanding of urban poverty needs updating and needs to be able to tackle more variability.

0 thoughts on “Comparing maps of urban poverty from 1980 and 2010

  1. Pingback: The changing nature of poverty in the Chicago region between 1980 and 2010 | Legally Sociable

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