Spatial Stratification within US Metropolitan Areas
In most metropolitan areas, central cities and older, inner-ring suburbs tend to have lower-skilled and less affluent populations, lower tax bases, as well as more deteriorated housing stocks and infrastructures, than their newer, outer-ring suburban neighbors. And the segregation becomes even more apparent if comparisons are made across individual neighborhoods within these jurisdictions. The first section, in order to set the stage, documents the magnitude of the spatial and jurisdictional disparities within the average metropolitan area and determines how these have changed in recent years. Many researchers go no further and thus overlook the surprising diversity found across different metropolitan areas in the magnitude of disparities. This paper, however, makes this variation its central concern. To this end, the second section classifies metropolitan areas on the basis of the magnitude of their central-city-suburban disparities and identifies certain metropolitan-area characteristics (such as population size, the degree of racial segregation, and the elasticity of the central-city boundaries) that are correlated with greater and lesser disparities. The third section then estimates a simple, cross-sectional regression that tests which, if any, of these correlations persist after controlling for other factors. Although more definitive conclusions regarding the precise causes of the jurisdictional disparities would be desirable, they would require further statistical analysis that lies outside the scope of this particular project.