Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Does Gentrification Increase Employment Opportunities in Low-Income Neighborhoods?

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 11:15 AM
Ibis (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Rachel Meltzer and Pooya Ghorbani, The New School
Gentrification is a term often associated with displacement and other negative byproducts of affluent in-movers altering the economic and demographic composition of a neighborhood.  Empirical research on neighborhood change, however, has produced no conclusive evidence that incumbent residents are in fact displaced under circumstances of gentrification. The question is then, do these incumbent residents benefit from the economic and social changes that accompany gentrification? In this paper, we focus on low-income neighborhoods undergoing economic transitions (i.e. gentrification) and test whether or not the potential benefits from these changes stay within the community, in the form of employment opportunities for local residents.  Our preliminary results suggest that gentrifying neighborhoods on average do not experience consistent, meaningful gains in local employment, compared to other comparable low-income neighborhoods that are not undergoing economic upgrading.  There is some weak evidence that, as a share of all jobs in the census tract, the number of local jobs decreases under circumstances of gentrification.  At larger geographies (i.e. ZIP codes), however, the number of jobs going to local residents increases, and these jobs are primarily going to low-earners.  Stratified models indicate that any local job gains are concentrated in neighborhoods with initially longer commute times for their workers (for both tract and ZIP analyses) and in tract neighborhoods with higher unemployment rates; both of these findings suggest that gentrification is perhaps helping to fill an initial employment gap.  Analyses at larger ZIP geographies, however, show that neighborhoods with higher initial unemployment rates witness drops in the number of local jobs; these results could be obscuring variation at finer geographies, though.