Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Incredible Shrinking Middle-Income Neighborhood

Are we witnesses to the death of the American Dream? A Brookings Institution analysis just out of the 1970 t0 2000 census data for neighborhoods in the 100 largest metro areas finds that middle-income neighborhoods are an increasingly endangered species. Staggering to me is how the decline of middle-income neighborhoods in three decades has lead to class polarization and segregation as lower-income families become more likely to live in lower-income neighborhoods and less likely to have the opportunity of a growing stock of middle-income neighborhoods to move into. 55% of lower-income families lived in middle-income neighborhoods in 1970; by 2000 only 37% lived in middle-income neighborhoods. Middle-income neighborhoods as a proportion of all metropolitan neighborhoods dropped from 58% to 41% over the same period. That is an incredible sign of the times.

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