Neighborhood Effects

Neighborhood Effects
Faber, Jacob W. and Patrick Sharkey. 2015. “Neighborhood Effects.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), 443-449.

Jacob William Faber and Patrick Sharkey

Social scientists have long been concerned with the role of space in systems of stratification. While scholars in the field of ‘neighborhood effects’ have typically focused on how a community affects the life chances of its residents, we argue for a broader view of neighborhood effects that considers how spatial stratification serves to maintain and reproduce inequality across multiple dimensions. This article outlines major theoretical arguments exploring how local residential contexts affect social and economic outcomes at the level of individuals and communities, drawing attention to the empirical challenges to measuring neighborhood effects.

Effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions

Effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions
Besbris, Max, Jacob W. Faber, Peter Rich, and Patrick Sharkey. 2015. “The effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(16): 4994-4998.

Max Besbris, Jacob W. Faber, Peter Rich, and Patrick Sharkey

Although previously theorized, virtually no rigorous empirical evidence has demonstrated an impact of neighborhood stigma on individual outcomes. To test for the effects of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions, an experimental audit of an online classified market was conducted in 2013–2014. In this market, advertisements were placed for used iPhones in which the neighborhood of the seller was randomly manipulated. Advertisements identifying the seller as a resident of a disadvantaged neighborhood received significantly fewer responses than advertisements identifying the seller as a resident of an advantaged neighborhood. The results provide strong evidence for an effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions, suggesting that individuals carry the stigma of their neighborhood with them as they take part in economic exchanges.

Superstorm Sandy and the Demographics of Flood Risk in New York City.

Superstorm Sandy and the Demographics of Flood Risk in New York City.
Faber, Jacob W. 2015. “Superstorm Sandy and the Demographics of Flood Risk in New York City.” Human Ecology, 43(3): 363-378.

Jacob William Faber

“Superstorm Sandy” brought unprecedented storm surge to New York City neighborhoods and like previous severe weather events exacerbated underlying inequalities in part because socially marginalized populations were concentrated in environmentally exposed areas. This study makes three primary contributions to the literature on vulnerability. First, results show how the intersection of social factors (i.e., race, poverty, and age) relates to exposure to flooding. Second, disruption to the city’s transit infrastructure, which was most detrimental for Asians and Latinos, extended the consequences of the storm well beyond flooded areas. And third, data from New York City’s 311 system show there was variation in distress across neighborhoods of different racial makeup and that flooded neighborhoods remained distressed months after the storm. Together, these findings show that economic and racial factors overlap with flood risk to create communities with both social and environmental vulnerabilities.

Renting in America’s Largest Cities

Renting in America’s Largest Cities
Conducted by the NYU Furman Center & commissioned by Capital One National Affordable Rental Housing Landscape

Sean Capperis, Ingrid Gould Ellen, and Brian Karfunkel

The supply of affordable rental housing failed to keep pace with demand in the 11 largest U.S. cities while rents rose faster than household incomes in five of the them. The NYU Furman Center/Capital One National Affordable Housing Landscape examines rental housing affordability trends in the central cities of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta and Miami) from 2006 to 2013 and illustrates how these trends affected renters as more households chose to rent amid rising rental costs.

Nine of the 11 largest U.S. cities have seen falling vacancy rates and rising rents, which are hurting lower- and middle-income renters. “Affordable” rent should comprise less than 30 percent of a household’s income. With the exception of Dallas and Houston, the average renter in each metropolitan area could not afford the majority of recently available rental units in their city. The cities were even less affordable to low-income renters, who could afford no more than 11 percent of recently available units in the most affordable cities.

Since 2006, there has been an increase in the share of low- and moderate-income renters who are severely rent-burdened— meaning they face rent and utility costs equal to at least half of their income. In 2013, over a quarter of moderate-income renters were severely rent-burdened in seven of the cities in the study, while a significant majority of low-income renters in all 11 cities were severely rent-burdened. The percentage of low-income renters facing severe rent-burdens continued to rise in each of these cities and low-income renters are often most acutely impacted by the lack of affordable housing.

The study also found that in five cities, the proportion of moderate-income renters experiencing severe rent burdens grew remarkably, while in other cities, the situation for moderate-income renters either changed little or even improved.

Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods

Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Published online before print February 20, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0022427815572633

Johanna Lacoe and Ingrid Gould Ellen

Objectives: The main objectives of the study are to estimate the impact of mortgage foreclosures on the location of criminal activity within a blockface. Drawing on routine activity theory, disorder theory, and social disorganization theory, the study explores potential mechanisms that link foreclosures to crime.

Methods: To estimate the relationship between foreclosures and localized crime, we use detailed foreclosure and crime data at the blockface level in Chicago and a difference-in-difference estimation strategy. Results: Overall, mortgage foreclosures increase crime on blockfaces. Foreclosures have a larger impact on crime that occurs inside residences than on crime in the street. The impact of foreclosures on crime location varies by crime type (violent, property, and public order crime).

Conclusions: The evidence supports the three main theoretical mechanisms that link foreclosure activity to local crime. The investigation of the relationship by crime location suggests that foreclosures change the relative attractiveness of indoor and outdoor locations for crime commission on the blockface.

Is neighbourhood destiny? Exploring the link between neighbourhood mobility and student outcomes

Is neighbourhood destiny? Exploring the link between neighbourhood mobility and student outcomes
Urban Studies. January 8, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0042098014563469

Sarah Cordes, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel and Jeffrey Zabel

The notion that children from ‘good’ neighbourhoods are destined for success while those from ‘bad’ neighbourhoods are destined for failure has considerable popular appeal. Residential location is strongly linked to school quality, access to educated adults, exposure to violence, etc. There is, however, surprisingly little evidence on the link between the neighbourhood in which a child begins school and later schooling outcomes. Understanding early neighbourhood experiences is important for determining whether students are ‘stuck’ in neighbourhoods of disadvantage. It is also critical for determining the extent to which students who begin their schooling careers in disadvantaged neighbourhoods are destined for poor schooling outcomes, and conversely, whether changing neighbourhood context improves student performance. In this study, therefore, we document how students’ early neighbourhood and schooling experiences are related to later success in school, and explore how changing neighbourhood and school contexts explain differences in academic outcomes. Using data from New York City (NYC), we construct a panel containing all students enrolled as first graders in NYC public schools in 1996–1997, following them through academic years 2007–2008, which would be their 12th grade year if they made standard academic progress (annual one-grade promotion). Far from supporting the simplistic story of ‘dead-end’ neighbourhoods, our analyses describe a situation where students from poor neighbourhoods actually move more often than their peers in less disadvantaged neighbourhoods and are more likely to experience changes in neighbourhood and school quality, with 45.7% of neighbourhood moves from the poorest neighbourhoods being made to significantly higher quality neighbourhoods.

Assessment of a government-subsidized supermarket in a high-need area on household food availability and children's dietary intakes

Assessment of a government-subsidized supermarket in a high-need area on household food availability and children's dietary intakes

Brian Elbel, Alyssa Moran, L Beth Dixon. Kamila Kiszko, Jonathan Cantor, Courtney Abrams and Tod Mijanovich

Objective: To assess the impact of a new government-subsidized supermarket in a
high-need area on household food availability and dietary habits in children.
Design: A difference-in-difference study design was utilized.
Setting: Two neighbourhoods in the Bronx, New York City. Outcomes were
collected in Morrisania, the target community where the new supermarket was
opened, and Highbridge, the comparison community.
Subjects: Parents/caregivers of a child aged 3–10 years residing in Morrisania
or Highbridge. Participants were recruited via street intercept at baseline (presupermarket
opening) and at two follow-up periods (five weeks and one year
post-supermarket opening).
Results: Analysis is based on 2172 street-intercept surveys and 363 dietary recalls
from a sample of predominantly low-income minorities. While there were small,
inconsistent changes over the time periods, there were no appreciable differences
in availability of healthful or unhealthful foods at home, or in children’s dietary
intake as a result of the supermarket.
Conclusions: The introduction of a government-subsidized supermarket into an
underserved neighbourhood in the Bronx did not result in significant changes in
household food availability or children’s dietary intake. Given the lack of healthful
food options in underserved neighbourhoods and need for programmes that
promote access, further research is needed to determine whether healthy food
retail expansion, alone or with other strategies, can improve food choices of
children and their families.

The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence

The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence
Journal of Development Studies 50 (4), April 2014: 583-604.

David Roodman and Jonathan Morduch

We replicate and reanalyse the most influential study of microcredit impacts (Pitt and Khandker, 1998). That study was celebrated for showing that microcredit reduces poverty, a much hoped-for possibility (though one not confirmed by recent randomized controlled trials). We show that the original results on poverty reduction disappear after dropping outliers, or when using a robust linear estimator. Using a new program for estimation of mixed process maximum likelihood models, we show how assumptions critical for the original analysis, such as error normality, are contradicted by the data. We conclude that questions about impact cannot be answered in these data.

The Foreclosure Crisis and Community Development: Exploring the Foreclosed Stock in Hard-Hit Neighborhoods

The Foreclosure Crisis and Community Development: Exploring the Foreclosed Stock in Hard-Hit Neighborhoods
Housing Studies, forthcoming

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Josiah Madar, and Max Weselcouch

As the foreclosure crisis continues, many communities are faced with a glut of properties that have completed the foreclosure process and are now owned by banks or other mortgage lenders. These properties, referred to as “real estate owned (REO),” often sit vacant for extended periods and, recent studies suggest, depress neighboring property values. They also impose significant costs on local governments, which must try to address the risk of crime, fire, and blight that vacant buildings pose. In addition, many worry that REO properties sold to unscrupulous short-term investors hasten neighborhood decline.

In this article we shed new light on the “REO problem” by studying the stock of REO properties at the neighborhood level in three urban areas: Fulton County, Georgia (which includes Atlanta), Miami-Dade County, Florida, and New York City. Using a combination of longitudinal administrative data sets on foreclosure filings, auction sales, and property transactions provided by local government sources, we identify every property transfer into REO ownership in recent years and all subsequent transfers of these properties. To explore the ongoing neighborhood and community development challenges, we divide census tracts into four groups based on their concentrations of REO properties as of the end of 2011. We then compare these neighborhood types across several dimensions. Because we use a uniform methodology for all three areas, we are also able to compare neighborhood groups across jurisdictions with the metrics we calculate.

We find several neighborhoods in Fulton County and Miami-Dade County with extremely high concentrations of REO properties as of the end of 2011, including some tracts with more than 100 REO properties. In New York City, however, REO concentrations are generally much lower, and no census tract had more than 12 REO properties. In all three jurisdictions, the neighborhoods with relatively high concentrations of REO properties are generally not the most distressed areas of their regions in terms of poverty and unemployment, but are still high-poverty and potentially vulnerable. Moreover, they are disproportionately black, highlighting the uneven impact the foreclosure crisis may be having on communities. Importantly, we find that that the number of REO properties in the hardest-hit neighborhoods of each area was declining as of the end of 2012 (or 2011, our latest year of data in Miami-Dade County), generally in line with the countywide or citywide trend in REO inventories, and that investors did not account for an appreciably higher proportion of purchasers of REO properties in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Furthermore, few of the properties that were purchased by investors appear to have been “flipped” within a short period. On the other hand, we also find that those REO properties that remained in these cities as of the end of 2012 or 2011 (including those in hard-hit neighborhoods) had been in REO for a longer duration than was typical one year earlier, so the composition of the REO stock may shifting towards more problematic properties. Additionally, in Fulton County’s hardest-hit tracts REO properties made up about 40 percent of all sales in 2012, so were likely still exerting significant downward pressure on housing prices. Finally while the National Stabilization Program (NSP) may be improving neighborhoods in other ways, we find that only a negligible share of the REO sales in the hardest-hit tracts of Fulton and Miami-Dade Counties in 2010 and 2011 were to non-profit entities and developers using NSP funds.


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