Race, Class, Gender & Diversity

Why Do Higher Income Households Move Into Low Income Neighborhoods: Pioneering or Thrift?

Why Do Higher Income Households Move Into Low Income Neighborhoods: Pioneering or Thrift?
Urban Studies, September 2013; vol. 50, 12: pp. 2478-2495.

Ellen, Ingrid, Katherine O’Regan and Keren Horn

This paper offers several hypotheses about which US higher-income households choose to move into low-income neighbourhoods and why. It first explores whether the probability that a household moves into a relatively low-income neighbourhood (an RLIN move) varies with predicted household and metropolitan area characteristics. Secondly, it estimates a residential choice model to examine the housing and neighbourhood preferences of the households making such moves. Thirdly, it explores responses to survey questions about residential choices. Evidence is found that, in the US, households who place less value on neighbourhood services and those who face greater constraints on their choices are more likely to make an RLIN move. No evidence is found that households making RLIN moves are choosing neighbourhoods that are more accessible to employment. Rather, it is found that households making RLIN moves appear to place less weight on neighbourhood amenities than other households and more weight on housing costs.

Racial Dynamics of Subprime Mortgage Lending at the Peak

Racial Dynamics of Subprime Mortgage Lending at the Peak
Faber, Jacob W. 2013. “Racial Dynamics of Subprime Mortgage Lending at the Peak.” Housing Policy Debate, 23(2): 328-349.

Faber, Jacob William

Subprime mortgage lending in the early 2000s was a leading cause of the Great Recession. From 2003 to 2006, subprime loans jumped from 7.6% of the mortgage market to 20.1%, with black and Latino borrowers receiving a disproportionate share. This article leveraged the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data and multinomial regression to model home-purchase mortgage lending in 2006, the peak of the housing boom. The findings expose a complicated story of race and income. Consistent with previous research, blacks and Latinos were more likely and Asians less likely to receive subprime loans than whites were. Income was positively associated with receipt of subprime loans for minorities, whereas the opposite was true for whites. When expensive (jumbo) loans were excluded from the sample, regressions found an even stronger, positive association between income and subprime likelihood for minorities, supporting the theory that wealthier minorities were targeted for subprime loans when they could have qualified for prime loans. This finding also provides another example of an aspect of American life in which minorities are unable to leverage higher class position in the same way as whites are. Contrary to previous research, model estimates did not find that borrowers paid a penalty (in increased likelihood of subprime outcome) for buying homes in minority communities.

Non-academic factors associated with dropping out of high school: Adolescent problem behaviors

Non-academic factors associated with dropping out of high school: Adolescent problem behaviors
Journal of the Society for Social Work Research. Vol. 4, No. 2 (2013) (pp. 58-75).

Hawkins, R. L., Jaccard, J., & Needle, E.

This study uses a social capital and collective socialization lens to examine nonacademic factors in middle school that predict students’ failure to complete high school, and focuses on youth who engage in adolescent problem behaviors of smoking cigarettes, sexual intercourse, delinquency, marijuana use, and alcohol use. Our area of interest was the extent to which these variables were predictive of dropping out of high school measured 6 years later and beyond the traditional variables of school performance and school engagement, which are the target of many dropout prevention programs. Analyses use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to follow a nationally representative sample of children from middle school through the end of the high-school years. Results indicate that engaging in regular smoking and sexual activity during middle-school years predict high-school dropout independent of school performance during middle school. Acts of delinquency during middle school in the context of poverty (i.e., mothers’ receipt of welfare was proxy for poverty) are also predictive of high-school dropout. These findings suggest the importance of factors that reach beyond school performance and school engagement as possible targets for dropout prevention programs.

Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality

Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality
University of Chicago Press

Sharkey, P.

In the 1960s, many believed that the civil rights movement’s successes would foster a new era of racial equality in America. Four decades later, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, Patrick Sharkey argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades. In Stuck in Place, Sharkey describes how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system.

As a result, neighborhood inequality that existed in the 1970s has been passed down to the current generation of African Americans. Some of the most persistent forms of racial inequality, such as gaps in income and test scores, can only be explained by considering the neighborhoods in which black and white families have lived over multiple generations. This multigenerational nature of neighborhood inequality also means that a new kind of urban policy is necessary for our nation’s cities. Sharkey argues for urban policies that have the potential to create transformative and sustained changes in urban communities and the families that live within them, and he outlines a durable urban policy agenda to move in that direction.


Winner of the Mirra Komarovsky Book Award, Eastern Sociological Society.

Winner of The American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Sociology and Social Work. ​

Race/Ethnicity-Specific Associations of Urinary Phthalates with Childhood Body Mass in a Nationally Representative Sample

Race/Ethnicity-Specific Associations of Urinary Phthalates with Childhood Body Mass in a Nationally Representative Sample
Environmental Health Perspectives. 121:501-506.

Trasande, Leonardo, Teresa M Attina, S Sathyanarayana, Adam J Spanier, Jan Blustein.

Background: Phthalates have antiandrogenic effects and may disrupt lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. Racial/ethnic subpopulations have been documented to have varying urinary phthalate concentrations and prevalences of childhood obesity.

Objective: We examined associations between urinary phthalate metabolites and body mass outcomes in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children and adolescents.

Methods: We performed stratified and whole-sample cross-sectional analyses of 2,884 children 6–19 years of age who participated in the 2003–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Multivariable linear and logistic analyses of body mass index z-score, overweight, and obesity were performed against molar concentrations of low-molecular-weight (LMW), high-molecular-weight (HMW), and di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) metabolites, controlling for sex, television watching, caregiver education, caloric intake, poverty–income ratio, race/ethnicity, serum cotinine, and age group. We used sensitivity analysis to examine robustness of results to removing sample weighting, normalizing phthalate concentrations for molecular weight, and examining different dietary intake covariates.

Results: In stratified, multivariable models, each log unit (roughly 3-fold) increase in LMW metabolites was associated with 21% and 22% increases in odds (95% CI: 1.05–1.39 and 1.07–1.39, respectively) of overweight and obesity, and a 0.090-SD unit increase in BMI z-score (95% CI: 0.003–0.18), among non-Hispanic blacks. Significant associations were not identified in any other racial/ethnic subgroup or in the study sample as a whole after controlling for potential confounders, associations were not significant for HMW or DEHP metabolites, and results did not change substantially with sensitivity analysis.

Conclusions: We identified a race/ethnicity–specific association of phthalates with childhood obesity in a nationally representative sample. Further study is needed to corroborate the association and evaluate genetic/epigenomic predisposition and/or increased phthalate exposure as possible explanations for differences among racial/ethnic subgroups.

Environmental and individual factors affecting menu labeling utilization: a qualitative research study

Environmental and individual factors affecting menu labeling utilization: a qualitative research study
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013 May;113(5):667-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.11.011. Epub 2013 Feb 9.

Jennifer Schindler, Kamila Kiszko, Courtney Abrams, Nadia Islam, Brian Elbel

Obesity is a prominent public health concern that disproportionally affects low-income and minority populations. Recent policies mandating the posting of calories on menus in fast-food chain restaurants have not proven to uniformly influence food choice. This qualitative research study used focus groups to study individual and environmental factors affecting the use of these menu labels among low-income minority populations. Ten focus groups targeting low-income residents (n=105) were held at various community organizations throughout New York City over a 9-month period in 2011. The focus groups were conducted in Spanish, English, or a combination of both languages. In late 2011 and early 2012, transcripts were coded through the process of thematic analysis using Atlas.ti for naturally emerging themes, influences, and determinants of food choice. Few participants used menu labels, despite awareness. The most frequently cited as barriers to menu label use included: price and time constraints, confusion and lack of understanding about caloric values, as well as the priority of preference, hunger, and habitual ordering habits. Based on the individual and external influences on food choice that often take priority over calorie consideration, a modified approach may be necessary to make menu labels more effective and user-friendly.

A new approach to understanding racial disparities in prostate cancer treatment

A new approach to understanding racial disparities in prostate cancer treatment
Journal of Geriatric Oncology, Vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jgo.2012.07.005

Presley, C.J., A.C. Raldow, L.D. Cramer, P.R. Soulos, J.B. Long, J.B. Yu, D.V. Makarov, and C.P. Gross

Objective: Previous studies addressing racial disparities in treatment for early-stage prostate cancer have focused on the etiology of undertreatment of black men. Our objective was to determine whether racial disparities are attributable to undertreatment, overtreatment, or both.

Methods: Using the SEER-Medicare dataset, we identified men 67–84 years-old diagnosed with localized prostate cancer from 1998 to 2007. We stratified men into clinical benefit groups using tumor aggressiveness and life expectancy. Low-benefit was defined as low-risk tumors and life expectancy < 10 years; high-benefit as moderate-risk tumors and life expectancy ≥ 10 years; all others were intermediate-benefit. Logistic regression modeled the association between race and treatment (radical prostatectomy or radiotherapy) across benefit groups.

Results: Of 68,817 men (9.8% black and 90.2% white), 56.2% of black and 66.3% of white men received treatment (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 0.65; 95% CI, 0.62–0.69). The percent of low-, intermediate-, and high-benefit men who received treatment was 56.7%, 68.4%, and 79.6%, respectively (P = < 0.001). In the low-benefit group, 51.9% of black vs. 57.2% of white patients received treatment (OR = 0.74; 95% CI, 0.67–0.81) compared to 57.2% vs. 69.6% in the intermediate-benefit group (OR = 0.64; 95% CI, 0.59–0.70). Racial disparity was largest in the high-benefit group (64.2% of black vs. 81.4% of white patients received treatment; OR = 0.57; 95% CI, 0.48–0.68). The interaction between race and clinical benefit was significant (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Racial disparities were largest among men most likely to benefit from treatment. However, a substantial proportion of both black and white men with a low clinical benefit received treatment, indicating a high level of overtreatment.

Beyond Black: Diversity among Black Immigrant Students in New York City Public Schools

Beyond Black: Diversity among Black Immigrant Students in New York City Public Schools
Randy Capps and Michael Fix, editors, Young Children of Black Immigrants in America: Changing Flows, Changing Faces. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute: 299-331

Doucet, F., Schwartz, A. E., & Debraggio, E.

The child population in the United States is rapidly changing and diversifying — in large part because of immigration. Today, nearly one in four US children under the age of 18 is the child of an immigrant. While research has focused on the largest of these groups (Latinos and Asians), far less academic attention has been paid to the changing Black child population, with the children of Black immigrants representing an increasing share of the US Black child population.

To better understand a unique segment of the child population, chapters in this interdisciplinary volume examine the health, well-being, school readiness, and academic achievement of children in Black immigrant families (most with parents from Africa and the Caribbean).

The volume explores the migration and settlement experiences of Black immigrants to the United States, focusing on contextual factors such as family circumstances, parenting behaviors, social supports, and school climate that influence outcomes during early childhood and the elementary and middle-school years.  Many of its findings hold important policy implications for education, health care, child care, early childhood development, immigrant integration, and refugee assistance.

Urban Mobility in the 21st Century

Urban Mobility in the 21st Century
The Furman Center for Transportationan and

Moss, Mitchell L. and Hugh O'Neil

Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people living in the world’s urban areas is expected to grow by 80 percent – from 3.5 billion to 6.3 billion. This growth will pose great challenges for urban mobility – for the networks of transportation facilities and services that maintain the flow of people and commerce into, out of and within the world’s cities.

Addressing the challenge of urban mobility is essential – for maintaining cities’ historic role as the world’s principal sources of innovation and economic growth, for improving the quality of life in urban areas and for mitigating the impact of climate change. It will require creative applications of new technologies, changes in the way transportation services are organized and delivered, and innovations in urban planning and design.

This report examines several aspects of the challenge of urban mobility in the twenty-first century – the growth of the world’s urban population, and changes in the characteristics of that population; emerging patterns of urban mobility; and changes in technology design and connectivity.



Do Federally Assisted Households Have Access to High Performing Public Schools?

Do Federally Assisted Households Have Access to High Performing Public Schools?
Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Ellen, Ingrid Gould and Horn, Keren Mertens.

A family’s housing unit provides more than simply shelter. It also provides a set of neighborhood amenities and a package of local public services, including, most critically, a local school. Yet housing and education policymakers rarely coordinate their efforts, and there has been little examination of the schools that voucher holders or other assisted households actually reach. In this project we describe the elementary schools nearest to households receiving four different forms of housing assistance in the country as a whole, in each of the 50 states, and in the 100 largest metropolitan areas.We compare the characteristics of these schools to those accessible to other comparable households. We pay particular attention to whether voucher holders are able to reach neighborhoods with higher performing schools than other low-income households in the same geographic area.


In brief, we find that assisted households as a whole are more likely to live near low-performing schools than other households. Surprisingly, Housing Choice Voucher holders do not generally live near higher performing schools than households receiving other forms of housing assistance, even though the voucher program was created, in part, to help low-income households reach a broader range of neighborhoods and schools. While voucher holders typically live near schools that are higher performing than those nearest to public housing tenants, they also typically live near schools that are slightly lower performing than those nearest to households living in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Projectbased Section 8 developments and lower performing than those nearest to other poor households.


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