Why is concentrated poverty important?

The Importance of Concentrated Poverty

Since 2000, the number of people living in extremely poor neighborhoods has doubled. These neighborhoods of concentrated poverty are still disproportionately in the densest urban places.[1] While advocates and policymakers spend much time wrestling over the uneven impacts of concentrated re-investment in some low-income communities (i.e., gentrification), there are many more urban neighborhoods that remain significantly impoverished. These communities should not be ignored.

The spatial and social isolation created by concentrated poverty compounds the difficulty of individual poverty. Some argue this isolation has more profound effects on quality of life and economic mobility than our expanding income inequality problem. What are some of these impacts?

Growing up in a high-poverty neighborhood is strongly correlated to a decrease of your potential future earnings. For example, in Richmond Virginia growing up in a high poverty neighborhood can cost you 15% in annual income by adulthood.

Moving to a higher opportunity neighborhood can improve your health. Research has shown a correlation between lower rates of diabetes, obesity and depression when low-income families move to higher-income neighborhoods.


[1] https://tcf.org/assets/downloads/Concentration_of_Poverty_in_the_New_Millennium.pdf