The Distribution of Neighborhood Poverty and Racial Disparities in Neighborhood Context: The Unequal American Geography of Opportunity

Theresa L. Osypuk, University of Michigan
Sandro Galea, University of Michigan
Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Harvard University

Our objective is to broaden the conceptualization of neighborhood poverty beyond "the average" to illustrate the non-overlap of entire distributions of neighborhood poverty by race, and to highlight the differences in poverty/race distributions across U.S. Metropolitan Areas (MAs). We used Census 2000 tract data for 100 largest MAs. We analyzed proportions of total tract population in poverty. To examine race-specific neighborhood-poverty distributions, we applied weights based on tract-level counts for NH-Blacks, NH-Whites, and Hispanics. For each MA and racial/ethnic group, we calculated exposure measures of mean, median, and quartiles of the neighborhood-poverty distribution; we tested for non-distributional-overlap between groups; we calculated a relative measure of the distribution of poverty, calibrated within MAs. We found the entire distribution of neighborhood-poverty shifted in a worse direction for minorities; white-minority distributions barely overlap. The MA-neighborhood poverty variation is substantially larger for minorities. MAs with highest neighborhood poverty had the widest distributions (rho=.66, p<.0001).

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Presented in Session 122: Race/Ethnicity and Social and Economic Inequality