How Long Do African Americans Stay in High-Poverty Neighborhoods? An Analysis of Spells
Discussions of high-poverty neighborhoods often assume that their residents are a distinct population trapped in poor neighborhoods for long durations. This paper examines this claim by calculating the first estimates of duration of residence in high-poverty neighborhoods for the African-American population. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics matched to census tract data and a model of movement among neighborhood types adopted from Bane and Ellwood (1983, 1986) and McGinnis (1968), I derive measures of the duration of stays in high-poverty neighborhoods. A large share of the black population will experience a short spell of residence in an extremely poor neighborhood at some time over a 10-year period. Many of the residents of nonpoor and poor neighborhoods at a point in time, however, will be there for long spells. Among poor African Americans, reentry to high-poverty neighborhoods following an exit is common. Patterns of stays in high-poverty neighborhoods are more complex and heterogeneous than usually supposed.
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