New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1997

Winner of the 1999 Prize for the Best Book in Urban Affairs, Urban Affairs Association.  Named “One of the Outstanding Academic Books of 1997” by Choice Magazine



“Jargowsky offers a powerful book that allows us to really understand how ghettos have been changing over time and the forces behind these changes. It should be required reading of anyone who cares about urban poverty.” — David Ellwood, Harvard University.

Poverty and Place provides the definitive empirical analysis of the rapid expansion of ghetto and barrio neighborhoods since 1970. Through an extensive analysis of census data and an insightful review of competing theories, Jargowsky documents that most of the growth in neighborhood poverty is due to slow income growth and rising inequality.” — Sheldon Danziger, University of Michigan.

“Poverty and Place is the first work to provide a comprehensive analysis of changes in neighborhood poverty nationwide….After reading this thoughtful book, any reasonable person would have to take these policy conclusions seriously. Jargowsky is to be congratulated for laying out a clear and compelling case for rethinking the way we talk about addressing the problems of high-poverty neighborhoods.” — From the foreword by William Julius Wilson, Harvard University.

Metropolitan Areas in the United States are undergoing profound changes in spatial organization, driven by structural economic transformations and changing patterns of racial and economic segregation. As a result, more and more residents of metropolitan areas reside in high-poverty neighborhoods, and the social and economic conditions in high-poverty neighborhoods have been worsening. A growing body of empirical evidence suggests that living in poor neighborhoods has deleterious effects on the people who live there, particularly the children.

Poverty and Place: Ghettos, Barrios, and the American City presents the results of a comprehensive national study of the problem of neighborhood poverty. The study includes all metropolitan areas in the United States, improving upon previous studies which used only a limited number of metropolitan areas or only central cities. In 1990, 8.4 million persons lived in high poverty areas, the vast majority of whom where members of minority groups living in highly segregated ghettos or barrios. However, a surprising number of high-poverty neighborhoods show a great deal of racial and ethnic diversity, and about one-fourth of the residents of high-poverty areas were non-Hispanic whites.

The study reveals that the concentration of poverty has been worsening. Among metropolitan blacks, the proportion living in ghettos and other high-poverty neighborhoods has risen from 14.4 in 1970 to 17.4 percent in 1990. Among the black poor, the figure has risen from 26.1 percent to 33.5 percent. However, the figure has risen most rapidly for the white poor, rising from 2.9 percent to 6.3 percent. The physical area of urban blight has expanded even more rapidly than the population living in such areas, with a 144 percent increase in the number of census tracts that have poverty rates in excess of 40 percent. Such increases are a cause for concern, because they fuel the flight of the middle-class from the metropolitan core and exacerbate the fiscal tensions between central cities and their suburbs. More importantly, they signal an increasing economic balkanization of our society in which lower- income persons are spatially isolated and unable to access the resources and opportunities they need to become fully integrated with the larger society.

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