Gentrification Reducing Downward Mobility?

I really wish the findings of a Pew Trust report (PDF) regarding economic mobility was a little clearer. The best I could figure, before they threw in the math equation, which totally lost me, is that when a neighborhood decreases poverty a child’s chance of heading downward as he/she grows up decreases. Yeah, there are a lot of negatives, unfortunately it isn’t clear when you make the sentence positive that there is the data to back it up. A positive sentence would be that when a neighborhood becomes richer, or parents move into a neighborhood with less than 10-20% poverty, their children will grow up to become successful adults who make more money than their parents. What was clear was a child growing up in a poorer neighborhood where poverty was 20% or more is more likely to become poorer.
I was reading the report trying to figure out if gentrification, or the lessening of the rate of poverty in a neighborhood, had any positive for poor children who remain in the neighborhood. The best I can figure from the report is that it doesn’t hurt. Apparently there weren’t enough families in the study group who moved from poor neighborhoods to neighborhoods with less than 10% poverty whose children became upwardly mobile adults.

5 thoughts on “Gentrification Reducing Downward Mobility?”

  1. I've also read articles about this. I can only begin to imagine all the factors that go into play, but I suppose this means that it's OK to live in poorer neighborhoods as childless household, but once you have children, maybe it's worth it to move somewhere more expensive? Hmm.. I don't know.

    I read that even families with middle class incomes who live in poorer neighborhoods have kids who are less likely to be successful.

  2. Shawn,
    Yes, in the executive summary of the report I believe it said that the neighborhood played as a great factor, more so than the parent's income.
    As the Shaw neighborhood changes and becomes less poorer, shall we say, I've noticed more parents sticking it out, and not immediately high tailing it to the burbs.

  3. Another way to look at it is to see the intrinsic value of 'rich' neighborhoods. Wealthier neighborhoods tend to have better public schools than the District's, or else the children of 'rich' parents send the kids to private schools.

    Problem is: Shaw, LeDroit, Bloomingdale, and Eckington cannot exist as exclusive enclaves of rich, childless (hetero or homo) couples and singletons. Either the school situation gets fixed, pronto, or you're going to have rich kids going to private schools, and lingering poverty that transcends generations. The latter is what we have the most of right now. And it isn't going to change in a generation unless kids have upward mobility.

    Saint Martin's affordable housing, anyone?


  4. Rich. Ha. I'm looking at $20 bucks in my wallet, which has to last me until Thursday. Somewhere, according to someone's metrics I'm rich…
    Anyway, teachable moment… Schools west of the park seem to preform better than many east of the park. Take a look at the DCPS map and play around with the school profiles. Kids in boundary get first dibs.
    I do take offense at the characterization of my neighborhood. I take offense of an untruth in the idea that expensive private schools are the ONLY solution. Charter schools have kept those former singletons, who later turned into PARENTS in the city. Charter schools as far as I know are free, like regular public schools.

  5. Some charter schools like many private schools are more demanding of parents than public schools. It's not unusual that parents have to volunteer at the school. It's rare that parents are asked to do that at public schools. In upper NW DC, some of the public school's parent groups pay for extra teachers, and equipment. I have a friend that taught science at a public elementary. Her salary and lab equipment were paid for by the school PTA, not DCPS. Unlike charter schools who can select their students, any DC kid could go there. However, some NW parents are trying to change that. There's a movement to disallow out of boundary enrollment.


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