Reversal of Fortunes? Low Income Neighborhoods in the US in the 1990s

This paper offers new empirical evidence about the prospects of lower-income, US urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. Using the Neighborhood Change Database, which offers a balanced panel of census tracts with consistent boundaries from 1970 to 2000 for all metropolitan areas in the US, evidence is found of a significant shift in the fortunes of lower-income, urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. There was a notable increase in the 1990s in the proportion of lower-income and poor neighbourhoods experiencing a gain in economic status. Secondly, in terms of geographical patterns, it is found that this upgrading occurred throughout the country, not just in selected regions or cities. Finally, it is found that the determinants of changes in lower-income, urban neighbourhoods shifted during the 1990s. In contrast to earlier decades, both the share of Blacks and the poverty rate were positively related to subsequent economic gain in these neighbourhoods during the 1990s.