The rust belt, the sunbelt, and the concentration of poverty within large U.S. cities
Previous research that has quantified the dispersion of U.S. urban poverty has often focused on metropolitan areas rather than on central cities themselves. Detroit, for example, shares a region with wealthy suburbs and thus appears to have concentrated poverty, but the city itself is uniformly poor and has few pockets of wealth. This study calculates four measures of household poverty concentration across block groups inside 74 U.S. cities, finding poor “Rust Belt” cities such as Detroit to have “diffuse” poverty. We also isolate a group of low-poverty, high-concentration cities in the U.S. South and West, as well as outliers that include “Sunbelt” cities with more diffuse poverty than predicted. Regression analysis finds the poverty rate itself to explain most of the variation in poverty concentration, with ethnic composition and the share of service employment also playing a potential role. Calculating changes in tract level poverty distributions from 2010 to 2015, we find that the concentration of poverty has decreased overall and that growth in the share of Hispanic residents might help explain these decreases.
Review of Regional Studies
Hegerty, Scott, "The rust belt, the sunbelt, and the concentration of poverty within large U.S. cities" (2019). Economics Faculty Publications. 29.