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Stanford professor’s study finds gentrification disproportionately affects minorities

Disadvantaged residents from predominately Black neighborhoods have fewer options in face of gentrification.

A new study by a Stanford sociologist has determined that the negative effects of gentrification are felt disproportionately by minority communities, whose residents have fewer options of neighborhoods they can move to compared to their white counterparts.

a thesis statement about gentrification

Stanford sociologist Jackelyn Hwang looked at the city of Philadelphia and determined that the negative effects of gentrification are felt disproportionately by minority communities, whose residents have fewer options of neighborhoods they can move to compared to their white counterparts. (Image credit: Getty Images)

“If we look at where people end up if they move, poor residents moving from historically Black gentrifying neighborhoods tend to move to poorer non-gentrifying neighborhoods within the city, while residents moving from other gentrifying neighborhoods tend to move to wealthier neighborhoods in the city and in the suburbs,” said study co-author Jackelyn Hwang , assistant professor of sociology in Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences .

Hwang and co-author Lei Ding of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia conducted one of the first studies to examine empirically where disadvantaged residents move as a result of gentrification and how a neighborhood’s racial context affects those moves.

Looking at the city of Philadelphia, Hwang and Ding found that financially disadvantaged residents who moved from neighborhoods that were not predominantly Black benefitted from gentrification by moving to more advantaged locations, but those moving from once predominantly Black areas did not. The research is published in the American Journal of Sociology .

“As neighborhoods gentrify, when poor people can no longer remain in their neighborhoods and move, there are fewer affordable neighborhoods,” Hwang said. “Our findings suggest that, for the Black community, there are additional constraints when they move, leading them to move to a shrinking set of affordable yet disadvantaged neighborhoods within the city.”

For the purposes of the study, an area was considered to be gentrifying if it experienced a significant increase, compared to other areas in the same city, either in median gross rent or median home value coupled with an increase in college-educated residents. In Philadelphia, there are many historically Black neighborhoods that have undergone gentrification over the last 20 years.

The issue of how gentrification affects different racial groups is particularly relevant right now in light of the increased instability people are facing due to the pandemic and incidents bringing attention to the unnecessary use of policing against people of color in the United States, Hwang said.

Fewer options

Hwang and Ding analyzed a consumer credit database of more than 50,000 adult residents with financial credit records in Philadelphia.

Recognizing that a primary cause of gentrification-related displacement is increased costs for current residents, the authors looked at individuals with low or missing credit scores who might be more vulnerable to displacement and at the same time might face limitations in housing searches if they did move.

The study found that residents in predominately non-Black gentrifying neighborhoods have a broader set of neighborhoods they moved to, while those from Black gentrifying areas were relegated to less advantaged neighborhoods and faced fewer options. These options included other largely Black neighborhoods or immigrant-populated neighborhoods, exacerbating neighborhood inequality by race and class.

“Gentrification is reconfiguring the urban landscape by shrinking residential options within cities for disadvantaged residents and expanding them for more advantaged residents,” the authors write.

Reasons for this discrepancy in Philadelphia and other major cities, Hwang said, include racially stratified housing markets and discriminatory lending practices that have long disadvantaged Black people.

The researchers found that the patterns exhibited by poorer residents moving out of largely Black gentrifying neighborhoods were similar to those of other disadvantaged residents who moved from non-gentrifying neighborhoods.

“Even if people are moving by choice, white people have more advantage when they go into the housing market,” she said.

Combatting inequities

In order to combat the likelihood of gentrification increasing socioeconomic and racial segregation within cities, the authors note the need for policies like Philadelphia’s recently implemented property tax relief program, which prohibits increases in property taxes for long-time low- and middle-income homeowners.

While the authors consider this a step in the right direction, they also would like to see more cities adopt policies that ensure residential stability for renters. Efforts to address racial discrimination in the housing market and overall racial wealth disparities also require attention, they write.

The authors note that as cities continue to transform, a sustained investment in non-gentrifying neighborhoods is needed to attract racial and socioeconomic diversity. At the same time, policies must be in place that allow disadvantaged residents to stay and that connect them to resources and opportunities.

This greater investment in non-gentrifying neighborhoods would, Hwang and Ding write, “ensure that disadvantaged movers are not limited to neighborhoods with high levels of disadvantage, high crime and low-quality schools.”

The study, titled “Unequal Displacement: Gentrification, Racial Stratification, and Residential Destinations in Philadelphia,” was supported in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health .

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  • J Urban Health
  • v.97(1); 2020 Feb

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Gentrification, Neighborhood Change, and Population Health: a Systematic Review

Alina s. schnake-mahl.

1 Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA USA

Jaquelyn L. Jahn

S.v. subramanian.

2 Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Cambridge, MA USA

Mary C. Waters

3 Department of Sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA USA

Mariana Arcaya

4 Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA USA

Despite a proliferation of research on neighborhood effects on health, how neighborhood economic development, in the form of gentrification, affects health and well-being in the USA is poorly understood, and no systematic assessment of the potential health impacts has been conducted. Further, we know little about whether health impacts differ for residents of neighborhoods undergoing gentrification versus urban development, or other forms of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent. We followed current guidelines for systematic reviews and present data on the study characteristics of the 22 empirical articles that met our inclusion criteria and were published on associations between gentrification, and similar but differently termed processes (e.g., urban regeneration, urban development, neighborhood upgrading), and health published between 2000 and 2018. Our results show that impacts on health vary by outcome assessed, exposure measurement, the larger context-specific determinants of neighborhood change, and analysis decisions including which reference and treatment groups to examine. Studies of the health impacts of gentrification, urban development, and urban regeneration describe similar processes, and synthesis and comparison of their results helps bridge differing theoretical approaches to this emerging research. Our article helps to inform the debate on the impacts of gentrification and urban development for health and suggests that these neighborhood change processes likely have both detrimental and beneficial effects on health. Given the influence of place on health and the trend of increasing gentrification and urban development in many American cities, we discuss how future research can approach understanding and researching the impacts of these processes for population health.


Economically deprived neighborhoods are associated with elevated rates of disease risk [ 1 ] and higher rates of health challenges at the neighborhood and individual level [ 2 , 3 ], as measured by outcomes including preterm birth [ 4 ], cardiovascular disease [ 5 ], and premature mortality [ 6 ]. A body of literature shows associations between underlying social and area-level factors and area-level health inequities [ 7 , 8 ], and finds that neighborhood conditions—and in particular racial residential segregation—are implicated in creating patterns of inequity across a multitude of social outcomes [ 9 ] and help to explain racial disparities in health outcomes between neighborhoods [ 10 ]. One understudied, but potentially relevant determinant of neighborhood-level health disparities, is gentrification.

The term gentrification was initially coined in the 1960s to describe the entrance of an urban “gentry” to, and subsequent transformation of, working-class areas of London [ 11 ]. Since then, the definition of gentrification, as well as its causes and consequences, has been widely debated among academics, activists, and the public [ 12 – 15 ]. We employ Smith’s [ 16 ] definition of gentrification: “the process by which central urban neighborhoods that have undergone disinvestments and economic decline experience a reversal, reinvestment, and the in-migration of a well-off middle- and upper-middle-class population.” Increases in housing prices and amenities, and distinct shifts in the demographic, residential, social, cultural, and political context of a neighborhood often accompany the entrance of higher socioeconomic status (SES) population [ 17 ]. These larger cultural and contextual shifts distinguish gentrification from other forms of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent such as redevelopment or public reinvestment, though these types of changes may catalyze gentrification. Despite the debates on gentrification, there is general agreement that gentrification has become more prevalent in the past two decades [ 18 ].

Gentrification has attracted academics’ and the public’s attention since the 1970s, with scholars and activists arguing for the importance of gentrification in shifting the economic trajectories and demographics of urban neighborhoods [ 19 , 20 ]. In the 1970s to 1980s, after decades of population decline and socioeconomic disinvestment, many urban, previously low-income neighborhoods began to experience reversals in SES, catalyzing a wave of research on the causes and consequences of gentrification [ 21 ]. These early patterns of “urban renewal” or “revitalization” were characterized by the redevelopment of dilapidated housing in a limited number of often predominantly white central city neighborhoods [ 22 ]. In contrast to previous decades, twenty-first-century gentrification has become faster and more widespread, creating more extreme neighborhood change in a greater number of neighborhoods [ 23 – 25 ] and impacting many low-income communities of color. The gentrification-related changes in the past two decades include the following: accelerated compositional shifts towards higher SES residents [ 25 – 27 ]; increases in the white, young college-educated population; and expansion of gentrification processes into historically Black neighborhoods [ 28 ]. By 2010, more than half of all large US cities had at least one gentrifying neighborhood [ 23 ]. Despite the increases in the SES of some urban neighborhoods, historical patterns of neighborhood disadvantage continue, with the average downtown neighborhood continuing to have lower SES than the metro area as a whole [ 27 ].

Gentrification increases are one trend in a recent process of US metropolitan reorganization. In the past two decades, higher-income populations have moved back to cities, more often to historically low-income communities of color than in previous decades, and less economically advantaged populations have moved or are being pushed out to suburbs [ 29 ]. These changes have begun to invert the geographic patterns of residential segregation that predominated since World War II [ 18 , 30 ]. Due to systematic housing discrimination and racist policies that limited home purchasing options for non-white populations, many US metropolitan areas racially isolate low-income urban neighborhoods in central cities and largely prohibited non-whites from higher-income suburbs [ 31 ]. However, since 2000, these patterns have degraded, so much so that by 2014, three million more low-income individuals lived in the suburbs than in urban areas [ 32 ], and patterns of concentrated poverty experienced by communities of color in cities have started to replicate in the suburbs [ 29 ], putting some suburbs at risk of subsequent gentrification. While recent gentrification and increasing suburban poverty have begun reorganizing geographic distributions of neighborhood and metropolitan area inequity, the health implications of these changes have been understudied. In this article, we explicitly draw on ecosocial theory [ 33 ] to situate gentrification in its historical context, as a recent manifestation of multi-generational patterns of residential segregation and economic divestment [ 17 ], and to frame the potential relationships between gentrification and health.

The increased rates and scale of gentrification and other neighborhood change processes—such as urban development and redevelopment, revitalization, and neighborhood renewal—have provoked renewed interest in processes that shift neighborhoods’ demographic characteristics over time. Researchers in sociology, economics, and urban planning have characterized causes and trends of gentrification. However, work on consequences has been largely limited to debates on displacement [ 14 , 34 – 36 ], crime [ 37 – 39 ], and a small number of studies on economic impacts [ 40 – 43 ]. Academic studies of gentrification and urban development, media sources [ 44 ], and activists from affected communities [ 45 , 46 ] suggest that gentrification impacts health. But, there is limited empirical literature on how gentrification affects population health, health behaviors, or access to health care in the USA. To our knowledge, there have been no systematic efforts to evaluate and summarize the existing literature on health and gentrification, or on alternatively termed but similar processes of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent.

The term gentrification often has a negative and politically loaded connotation in both colloquial and, at times, academic contexts. Frontline community-based organizations, reporters, and impacted communities have described gentrification as a “profit-driven racial and class reconfiguration” [ 45 ], or a process of colonialization [ 47 ]. Such definitions explicitly highlight the potential resulting economic and cultural exclusion for working-class communities of color. Despite generally more neutral definitions in academia, we hypothesized that because of the everyday negative usage, some authors avoid the term gentrification, even when measuring forces of neighborhood change that could be defined as gentrification by other academics. We, therefore, expand the search terms in this review to include similar processes of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent not explicitly named gentrification. Further, gentrification is an ambiguous term . Even when expressly used, gentrification includes a range of processes and consequences [ 48 ]. We explore whether these multiple processes should be grouped into a single concept of gentrification.

Researchers have hypothesized both beneficial and detrimental health consequences of gentrification, particularly for low-income populations and communities of color [ 49 – 52 ]. For low-income populations able to stay in gentrifying neighborhoods, health benefits may accrue from poverty de-concentration, reduced segregation, enhanced safety, and improved access to resources, amenities (e.g., public parks), and economic opportunities [ 53 ]. The vast body of literature examining the adverse health effects of exposure to concentrated poverty and residential segregation suggests that reductions in these neighborhood exposures may benefit health [ 9 , 54 ]. However, evidence on either the economic risks and benefits of income mixing [ 55 , 56 ] or substantive social network overlap across racial groups within recently integrated neighborhoods is limited [ 56 , 57 ], and debate remains about the direction of the relationship between gentrification and crime [ 13 , 37 , 39 ].

Conversely, neighborhood change processes can create neighborhoods of extreme income inequality [ 58 ] and exacerbate income polarization [ 56 ]; break down social cohesion and organizations [ 59 , 60 ]; and displace culture, businesses, and political power [ 61 , 62 ], all of which can negatively impact health, particularly for low-income populations [ 63 ]. As housing prices increase in gentrifying neighborhoods [ 64 ], some low-income families may be involuntarily displaced [ 51 ], and landlords operating in gentrifying neighborhoods may evict residents by clearing buildings or engaging in various tactics to push poor residents out in favor of higher-income residents [ 65 , 66 ]. Both voluntary and involuntary displacement can catalyze a cascade of health consequences [ 67 ]. Displaced households may experience increasing financial strains because of relocation expenses; may lose access to neighborhood resources, schools, or jobs; experience disruption of protective social connections, resiliency strategies, and connections to place present in their former neighborhoods [ 59 , 68 ]; and be exposed to discrimination and social marginalization at higher levels than in previous neighborhoods [ 68 , 69 ]. Materialist and psychosocial stressors of the nature described above can elevate the risk of a variety of adverse health outcomes and create psychological burdens for families [ 59 , 70 ]. Once displaced, limited availability of affordable housing may force low-income households to move to substandard units or become unstably housed, which can expose residents to a range of health risks [ 71 , 72 ].

For low-income populations that remain in gentrifying neighborhoods, observing neighbors’, family, or friends’ displacement and anticipation of one’s possible dispossession may present psychosocial burdens [ 73 ], which act as risk factors for a range of adverse health outcomes [ 74 ]. Additionally, increased housing prices reduce available income for medication, health care, transportation, healthy food, and leisure activities [ 75 ] and can impact households’ abilities to achieve health. The existing evidence suggests that gentrification likely impacts population health, but more research is needed to understand the causal mechanisms at play, subpopulation effects, and the full range of potential implications for population health.

We present an original systematic review of empirical research on gentrification and health in the USA. We also examine the literature on urban development and other forms of socioeconomic ascent to ensure inclusion of studies that apply different terminology, but examine substantively comparable neighborhood change processes. We specifically focus on health impacts for low-income populations living in neighborhoods that undergo socioeconomic ascent. Our analysis can aid in better understanding of how these neighborhood socioeconomic and cultural changes impact equity, specifically disparities in health and health care access.

Literature Search

We conducted our systematic review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines [ 76 ].

Search Strategy

To identify empirical studies that examine associations between gentrification, and other differently termed but similar neighborhood change processes, and health outcomes published between January 1, 2000, and March 31, 2018, we performed a literature review in five electronic databases: Pubmed, Sociological Abstracts, Web of Science, Academic Search Premier, and EconLit. These databases index journals from each of the major fields that have produced articles on neighborhood effects research. We limited the time range to post 2000 because twenty-first-century gentrification differed substantively from gentrification in previous decades [ 23 – 25 ].

We compiled a list of exposure terms, identified by a review of articles on gentrification and health found in Pub Med, related Mesh terms, and review by topic experts. The terms included gentrification, as well as various processes of socioeconomic ascent including community development/revitalization, urban renewal, and neighborhood change. We expanded our search beyond gentrification because authors use multiple terms to describe processes of neighborhood change and SES ascent. We explicitly did not include words such as eviction or displacement, as they represent possible consequences of gentrification, or mediators in the relationship between gentrification and health. Search terms for health outcomes were based on outcomes previously examined in neighborhood effects research [ 77 ]. Finally, we included geographic search terms to identify studies at the neighborhood or area level.

We combined geographic and exposure terms with the Boolean operator “AND,” then combined these with the health outcome/behavior terms, again using the Boolean operator “AND” (see Appendix Fig ​ Fig2 2 Table ​ Table4 4 for an example of MESH search terms). We searched for our terms within title and abstracts in all databases, and if available by the database, additionally searched MESH terms and keywords related to health outcomes and various terms for neighborhood change processes.

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Example search terms

Search terms according to group

We also conducted a “snowball search” examining the reference lists of included articles and additionally searched the grey literature on Google. For our Google search, we used search terms combining the exposure and outcome terms from Appendix Table ​ Table4, 4 , with the name of large cities (e.g., New York, Chicago, San Francisco). Though the search identified relevant reports, none included quantitative estimates of the relationship between gentrification and health. We, therefore, exclude the details of this search strategy. We did not perform a formal meta-analysis on included studies because of the diversity of outcomes assessed in the various included articles (Appendix Fig. ​ Fig.2 2 ).

Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

To be included, studies had to conduct primary analysis on the empirical relationship(s) between gentrification or similar processes and health outcomes, assessed at either the individual or neighborhood levels. We limited our search to English-language articles with a US study population. This was because the context, drivers, and thus implications of gentrification and neighborhood change in other countries differ substantially from the USA. The historical racist actions and continued legacy of residential racial segregation in the USA created unique neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, and consequential opportunity for reinvestment in previously disinvested communities [ 31 ]. Therefore, patterns of neighborhood inequity and gentrification described in the included articles are likely to be unique to the USA.

During the full-text assessment, we excluded studies on general crime as an outcome but included studies that assessed homicide or violent crime specifically, as general crime is not a health outcome. Additionally, we excluded articles based on exposure definitions; this included articles that evaluated stagnant neighborhood poverty and increasing neighborhood poverty; articles that did not identify the direction of neighborhood socioeconomic change; or studies in which participants moved, but neighborhoods did not undergo change, because they did not meet our definition of gentrification and related neighborhood processes. Finally, we also excluded articles in which there was no quantitative assessment between the exposure and health outcome.

Study Selection and Data Extraction

Once all identified bibliographic records from the electronic databases were compiled, titles and abstracts were reviewed by ASM and JJ using the above eligibility criteria, and only studies that met inclusion were added to the database. The same authors then reviewed and cross-checked the abstract and full articles to verify the inclusion criteria. This process was then repeated by ASM, and any disagreement on inclusion was resolved through discussion. A second full-article review was then conducted by both authors during the data extraction process, and additional articles were excluded. To quantitatively assess how gentrification affects health, only data from empirical studies were extracted and entered into a database (see Appendix Table ​ Table5 5 ).

Summary of included studies

To understand how gentrification has been conceptualized and operationalized, we recorded how the exposure was named and measured, and the description of the examined construct. Additionally, we report the main results and findings, and direction of results (positive, negative, no effect evident), as related to association or effects of the exposure and health. Table ​ Table1 1 also displays the author name(s), title, year, hypothesized effect and direction, and effect estimate and direction. Though not shown in Table ​ Table1, 1 , we also extracted information on discipline of publishing journal, explicit mention of guiding theory/framework and theory/framework name, stated article purpose, neighborhood definition, hypothesized connections between gentrification and health, dataset used, years studied and study location, study design, covariates assessed, and mediators and moderators considered. We additionally assessed if studies took a historical perspective on the process of gentrification by examining the history of community development policy or disinvestment in that area, if race/ethnicity was explicitly mentioned or operationalized in the definitions of the exposure, and whether the study required that neighborhoods were low-income or disinvested in the base year of the study period. These three topics are major areas of controversy in the gentrification literature, and therefore we sought to understand how the included studies considered these questions.

Characteristics of 22 empirical quantitative studies of neighborhood change and health

a One study included both a longitudinal and cross-sectional study design

b One study included both a national and LA-specific analysis

The five-database search yielded 9879 articles. After removing duplicates, 9108 articles remained. The majority of these articles (8603) were excluded because they did not study a gentrification-relevant exposure, and an additional 190 articles did not examine US populations. We included 100 articles in our first full-text review but excluded an additional 80 publications during the data extraction phase, again primarily because they did not examine a gentrification-relevant exposure, leaving 20 articles that met inclusion criteria. We included an additional two articles from the snowball search strategy, for a total of 22 included articles (see Fig. ​ Fig.1, 1 , study selection flow chart).

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Flowchart for study selection

Appendix Table ​ Table5 5 shows the author and publication year, primary exposure name, exposure definition, hypothesized effect and direction of the effect, and the resulting estimated effect and direction of the effect of the 22 included studies.

In Table ​ Table1, 1 , we summarize the publication year of the included articles, study population geographic location, exposure definition, and outcome(s). Only one article was published before 2005, which used data from the 1980s and 1990s. Of the remaining articles, eight (36%) were published between 2005 and 2009, six (27%) between 2010 and 2014, and the seven (32%) between 2015 and 2018. Nearly a third of articles examined East Coast cities (New York and Philadelphia specifically); and three examined Chicago and St. Louis.

Exposures and Outcomes

More than a quarter (eight) of the articles examined homicide, violence, safety, or mortality as a primary outcome. Nine articles (40%) assessed birth outcomes, health behaviors, and chronic diseases, and only two studies examined mental health (depressive symptoms).

Although all included articles measured some type of neighborhood change related to socioeconomic gain, the exposure was labeled differently by various researchers. Nine (> 40%) of the included articles named their exposure gentrification, and an additional five (22%) referred to their exposure as community change, neighborhood change, or neighborhood trajectory. Though the terminology differed, 13 out of 14 articles that examined gentrification or neighborhood/community change defined the exposure as a process of neighborhood change that included a shift towards higher socioeconomic status (see Appendix Table ​ Table5 5 for exposure definitions); the Morenoff et al. (2007) defined gentrification as “a residentially mobile population consisting of young adults and few children under the age of 18.” English et al. measured their exposure with census variables also commonly considered to indicate gentrification, but termed their exposure neighborhood instability. Among the remaining nine articles, four (18%) called their exposure urban/community development or revitalization/improvement, two (9%) neighborhood context or neighborhood position, and the remaining two termed their exposure neighborhood renovation or instability.

Seven articles (33%) lacked a priori hypothesis about the direction of the relationship between the exposure and health outcome of interest (see Appendix Table ​ Table5). 5 ). Another eight articles (33%) hypothesized a protective relationship, and five articles (~ 25%) included both protective and detrimental hypothesis. Three articles (14%) [ 78 – 80 ] hypothesized that the relationship between the exposure and the outcome would be detrimental to the health of individuals exposed.

Almost 90% of studies (19 articles) reported a significant effect of neighborhood SES ascent on health when including subgroup effects. Of these, one-third (eight) of the included articles reported significant health improvements associated with the exposure among the full study population, another third (eight articles) found both significant protective and detrimental effects depending on the subgroup assessed, and 20% (four articles) found significant harmful main effects, and the remainder (two articles) reported no significant main or subgroup effects.

Of the nine papers that named their exposure of interest gentrification, six of nine articles (67%) found a significant overall association (positive or negative) between gentrification on health, and all found significant associations between gentrification and health for at least one subgroup. For example, using a cross-sectional dataset, Gibbons found only a marginally significant effect ( p < 0.10) for the overall association between gentrification and poor self-rated health, but significantly higher odds for Blacks compared to whites. Of note, this was the only study that included a self-reported outcome. Lim et al. (2017) found that for low-income groups remaining in gentrifying neighborhoods, residents experienced significantly higher rates of emergency department (ED) utilization, lower rates of hospitalizations, and no significant effect on mental health-related visits, in comparison to low-income residents in non-gentrifying neighborhoods [ 80 ]. The Lee article, which used a methodologically rigorous, quasi-experimental study design, found no significant effect of gentrification in low-income neighborhoods, and an increase in assaults in moderate-income neighborhoods undergoing gentrification.

There were additional contrasting results in terms of the protective or detrimental effects of gentrification on health. Four of the studies (44%) on gentrification found protective effects, and all but one of those articles examined violence. One study (11%) found only harmful associations, and four (44%) found both protective and detrimental associations. Of these mixed-result studies, the authors offered differing explanations for their findings: one found contrasting effects by outcome assessed—emergency department versus hospital admission [ 80 ]; another by exposure measurement—density of coffee shops versus administrative economic data [ 81 ]; another by time period—1990s versus 2000s [ 82 ]; another by the economic status of the neighborhood—low versus moderate income; and the two found subgroup effects depending on participant racial category [ 83 ], and an interaction between participant race and neighborhood racial composition [ 84 ].

Studies on violence and crime (six of the nine articles) produced conflicting results, with some documenting a decrease [ 37 , 39 , 81 , 85 ] and others an increase in violence associated with gentrification [ 38 , 82 ]. Though, notably, Williams found that between 2000 and 2009, gentrification was associated with 52 (SE 13.56, p < 0.01) additional violent crimes than non-gentrifying areas, and Lee found that in moderate-income neighborhoods, each additional gentrifying household per 1000 led to annual average of 2.2 (SE 1.09, p < 0.05) more assaults per 1000. In addition to conducting primary analysis, Kreager et al. (2011) summarized earlier work, and the findings suggest a curvilinear relationship between gentrification and crime/violence over time, suggesting that early-stage gentrification—during the 1970s and 1980s—was associated with increases in crime, while crime rates declined during the 1990s. We caution direct comparison of the articles on violence, as they focus on different cities and periods, and include various measures of gentrification, and all but one used observational data, so it cannot show that gentrification caused changes in violence.

Study Design and Analysis Methods

Regarding study design, the vast majority of articles (90%) were observational, and only two (9%) articles used quasi-experimental designs, one instrumental variable [ 38 ], and one longitudinal pre-post with a control group [ 86 ] (see Table ​ Table2). 2 ). Of those 20 observational articles, one article used both a longitudinal and cross-sectional study design [ 88 ], another eight (36%) used only a longitudinal cohort design, and the remaining 11 (55%) employed a cross-sectional or repeated cross-sectional design. Of the nine studies that examined gentrification, one (11%) used a quasi-experimental design, four (44%) used longitudinal designs, and four other (44%) studies used cross-sectional or repeated cross-sectional designs. The single gentrification study using a quasi-experimental design by Lee (2010) exploited the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles as an instrument to control for bias due to neighborhood selection and found that in the short-term gentrification increased crime. Overall, however, studies using designs with a lower risk of bias (quasi-experimental, longitudinal) did not appear to differ concerning the likelihood of reporting either a positive or negative relationship between the assessed exposure and health.

Study design and exposure measurement in studies of neighborhood change and health ( N = 22)

a One study used both a cross-sectional and longitudinal study design

b Only longitudinal studies that included a control group were considered quasi-experimental

Eight studies (36%) used a multilevel modeling approach, most nesting individuals within neighborhoods or communities, and another six studies used fixed-effects approach, though there was no difference in the direction or likelihood of significance for multilevel models versus fixed-effects approaches. The articles included various covariates that might bias the impact of the exposure on health outcomes. Common individual-level covariates included age, sex or gender, race/ethnicity, measures of socioeconomic status (income, education, wealth), a housing tenure-related measure, insurance status, marital status, and outcome at baseline. Common neighborhood-level measures included population count, neighborhood racial composition, percent foreign-born/immigrant population, and indices of concentrated disadvantage.

Nearly a quarter (5) of the included studies augmented census data with measures intended to capture the subtle cultural process of neighborhood change not evident in census data. Half of all studies (11) relied on administrative data to operationalize the exposure, primarily data derived from either the decennial census or American Community Survey (ACS); and another five (23%) studies employed various types of observational data, such as the count of coffee shops or analysis of property appraisals. Six studies (27%) used a longitudinal or repeated cross-sectional study design and measured the pre-post design as the exposure (e.g., before and after a development project).

Nearly half (10) of the studies tested whether the magnitude of the effect varied depending on a third variable, and six of those ten examined whether the magnitude or direction of the effect differed depending on respondents’ race/ethnicity. Though Williams and Rabito found no race-specific interaction effects, the four remaining studies found support for differential effects either by individual race/ethnicity or neighborhood racial compositions. The four studies generally found either larger benefits for whites or white neighborhoods, or worse outcomes for non-white populations than white populations [ 83 , 84 , 87 , 88 ]. Less than a quarter (5) of all included articles explicitely mentioned or operationalized race in their definitions of the exposure.

A major debate in the literature is whether a neighborhood must be poor or low-income to be eligible for reinvestment and considered eligible to gentrify or revitalize. Less than half (10) of the included studies required such a condition in the base year of analysis. Studies operationalized “eligible for reinvestment” in different ways: as those neighborhoods with below average median family income for the city [ 39 , 84 ], neighborhoods where ≥ 50% of the residents live below 1.5 times the federal poverty level [ 15 , 62 , 89 ]; neighborhoods with higher than average poverty level [ 85 ]; or defined by a principal component analysis of multiple neighborhood-level characteristics [ 80 ]. Six articles [ 37 , 81 , 83 , 84 , 90 ] specifically mentioned displacement of lower-income households as part of the exposure definition, and all but one [ 90 ] of those articles termed their exposure gentrification.

Article Framing

Almost 60% (13) of the included studies explicitly mentioned or described a framing theory in the article text (Table ​ (Table3). 3 ). Most of those theories either fell into the category of ecological theories (social-ecological, ecological dissimilarity, human ecology, social disorganization, and relative deprivation) or social capital theories (social disorganization and collective efficacy). No included studies explicitly employed a participatory framework or approach.

Theory and historical framing, by direction of hypothesis, in studies of neighborhood change and health ( N = 22)

a Studies were defined as ahistorical if they did NOT include any description of the history of the exposure measure or history of the study neighborhoods

We also examined if the presence of theory or historical assessment suggested the directionality of the hypothesized relationship between the exposure and outcome. No clear relationships emerged, though studies including a historical or theoretical perspective were slightly more likely to hypothesize a protective directionality, and no studies that included a historical perspective also assumed a detrimental impact. Eight (36%) studies hypothesized a protective effect, three (14%) hypothesized detrimental effects, seven (32%) lacked an a priori hypothesis, and four (18%) hypothesized that there would be both protective and detrimental impacts. Nearly one-third of studies that lacked a historical perspective of the exposure or neighborhood also lacked an a priori hypothesis. Among articles published in public health journals, 50% (five of ten articles) were both atheoretical and ahistorical, and the remaining five were either ahistorical or atheoretical; no studies published in public health journals explicitly addressed both theory and history.

This review provides a summary of the last two decades of quantitative research on the relationships between health and gentrification, urban development, and other forms of socioeconomic ascent. Our results reveal limited literature on how neighborhood socioeconomic ascent impacts health, finding only 22 studies that met the inclusion criteria. While more research is needed, studies on gentrification, and related neighborhood SES ascent processes, and health represent a promising area of study about how changing places impact health. Of the limited studies available, the majority found evidence of significant associations between gentrification and other measures of socioeconomic ascent and health, though the direction of the assessed relationships was not consistent. Nine studies specifically examined gentrification, and of those, five found a protective effect of gentrification on health, though four of the five assessed the impact of gentrification on a measure of violence. The other four studies found either detrimental or both detrimental and protective impacts of gentrification on health.

Debates on gentrification and other neighborhood change processes are often framed as questions about whether such processes are uniformly harmful or protective [ 15 ]. Our results cannot provide definite conclusions to this question, with respect to health, and instead suggest that gentrification, neighborhood change, and urban development appear to both detrimentally and beneficially associate with health. In the following paragraphs, we describe some of the primary reasons the studies appeared to find diverging associations between neighborhood socioeconomic ascent and health. In particular, we discuss differences in contextual determinants of neighborhood change, outcomes and exposure measurement employed, and study design and analysis methods.

First, as suggested by ecosocial theory, underlying political, social, and economic neighborhood differences impact health [ 33 ], as well as the probability that a neighborhood will gentrify. Contextual differences include the preexisting spatial and racial inequity in cities, policy efforts underway, the level of affordable housing and community organizing present, speed at which change processes occur, and whether the cause of change is exogenous [ 91 ]. In future studies, such contextual factors should be considered as potential confounders or effect modifiers of the relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic ascent and health, when testing the relationship across multiple neighborhoods. In particular, racial residential segregation plays a foundational role in maintaining and replicating racial and socioeconomic inequity [ 9 , 92 ]. Segregation and intentional disinvestment from, in particular, Black communities [ 93 ], created the conditions that result in over-representation of communities of color as disinvested and low-income, and therefore eligible to gentrify [ 94 ]. As the ecological dissimilarity hypothesis posits, residential segregation creates differential exposures and contexts for majority Black versus majority non-Black neighborhoods, and therefore neighborhood change produces divergent processes and outcomes depending on the prior racial/ethnic composition of the neighborhood and of the gentrifiers [ 95 ].

The theoretical and historical framing of an article can orient authors to the larger contextual factors operating in the places they study, and help authors identify potential effect modifiers, such as levels of segregation, to test for in studies. However, none of the articles in our review, that were published in public health journals, included explicit theoretical and historical framing, and overall, nearly two-thirds of the included studies did not include a historical perspective. The ahistorical studies did not explicitly engage with discussions on how larger political, economic, and cultural powers and processes, and divorced their explication of neighborhood change from the durability of racial segregation. Future research, particularly in public health, will benefit from explicitly engaging in larger discussions on neighborhood inequities, and the propensity for certain neighborhoods to undergo change. The lack of theoretical and historical framing in the public health literature we examined also makes it challenging to distinguish gentrification from other forms of socioeconomic ascent . For example, neighborhood socioeconomic ascent that occurs as a result of public investment or economic development versus ascent due to an influx of new residents. We might operationalize both types of neighborhood change by measuring changes in income, but outcomes for residents are likely to differ. Such differences enforce the importance of clearly describing contextual antecedents and change processes.

We found included articles used a plurality of definitions and measures of gentrification and related exposures, and caution against assuming a uniform relationship between such exposures and health. Epidemiology traditionally requires a well-defined intervention to estimate causal effects. At this time, gentrification research is in a nascent stage of development, so the consistency assumption may not be the primary concern [ 96 ]. However, as research moves forward towards guiding potential interventions on gentrification, the issue of a well-defined intervention should be addressed.

Gentrification is one commonly measured form of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent [ 69 ], and we intentionally included differently named exposures in this review. Even within the studies explicitly terming their exposure gentrification, authors conceptualized and operationalized gentrification in numerous ways. It follows that exposures termed and measuring other forms of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent would likely produce differential outcomes. How a neighborhood changes—for example, the speed, whether internal or external forces catalyze the change, residents’ feelings of ownership of change [ 97 ]—is likely as important for health as change itself. To address the import of change type, we intentionally avoid conducting a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis would require grouping our variously termed and measured exposures together to calculate a pooled effect. Instead, this article is intended to build a foundation for future work to answer the question of how to classify different types of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent as they relate to health outcomes.

Half of all reviewed studies relied on administrative, mostly census, data to operationalize their exposure. Census-based measures allow for small area estimates that approximate neighborhoods and allow for geographically meaningful comparisons across places, but may miss nuanced changes within neighborhoods [ 98 ]. Promising work in sociology uses systematic social observation and Google street view to capture the cultural and developmental aspects of gentrification [ 17 ]. But no authors have yet applied the measure to health studies. Application of measures using systematic social observation, or measures generated using various other forms of data, may help to differentiate gentrification from other types of socioeconomic ascent. Examples include data from the existing administrative data sources such as parcel-based home sales, property characteristics and permits, condominium conversions, tenant complaints, and 311 calls; indices based on social media sources—e.g., yelp Business reviews [ 99 ], user-generated geographic content [ 100 ], surveys of long-term resident perceptions’ of gentrification, or mixed-methods approaches triangulating multiple data sources [ 98 ]. Such work can aid in understanding which types and qualities of gentrification matter for shaping health outcomes as well as the mechanisms by which this occurs. There has also been limited exploration of various gentrification subtypes in the health literature, for example, change induced by gay and lesbian populations [ 101 ], of gay and lesbian neighborhoods [ 102 ], or catalyzed by an influx of neo-bohemian and creative classes [ 103 ]. Extending gentrification work to consider subtypes may help to explain differential impacts across studies.

The literature, both the articles we reviewed on gentrification and health and the larger body of literature on gentrification generally, has failed to arrive at a consensus on definitions or measurement of gentrification and urban development processes [ 104 , 105 ]. And, even those articles using the same term to describe their exposure do not apply consistent definitions for the term employed. For example, there is substantial debate in the literature about how to define and measure gentrification. Five of the articles on gentrification included displacement in their exposure definitions, while other researchers presented displacement as a consequence, rather than component, of gentrification [ 106 ]. Likewise, debates about which neighborhoods are eligible to undergo neighborhood socioeconomic ascent and gentrify [ 20 , 106 , 107 ], and if gentrification is an inherently racialized process [ 95 ] lead to differing decisions about which neighborhoods to include in a study, categorization of thresholds to identify treatment or control neighborhoods, and variables or data used to operationalize the exposure. Of our included articles, almost half (10) required prior disinvestment or neighborhoods to be low income in the base year of the study, and 22% (5) studies included race in their exposure definition. These decisions can impact the significant and direction of results, as well as the interpretation of analysis and recommendations to stifle or encourage gentrification. We add to the definitional debate by identifying that the definition and operationalization of the exposure process also impact the health effects estimated. Rather than advocating for a single definition, we instead suggest researchers present a clear theoretical basis for their definitional and operational choices, so that readers can assess the position from which researchers are approaching their questions [ 108 ].

There did not appear to be a uniform directional relationship between exposures and outcomes across health measures, or even across multiple studies measuring the same outcome. More than a third of the reviewed studies examined violence and crime but found varying directional results. Given the inconsistent relationships that emerged depending on the outcome assessed, studies should consider including a more extensive set of potential health outcomes. For example, only one study included a self-reported health outcome, and none of the reviewed studies on gentrification examined mental health outcomes, though mental health and self-reported health may show rapid changes in the face of neighborhood change. Administrative databases, such as health insurance claims data, show great promise because of their ability to track longitudinal health outcomes and household addresses. For example, a study by Dragan et al. uses Medicaid claims data to compare utilization rates among children in low-income neighborhoods that gentrified to children in low-income neighborhoods that did not gentrify [ 109 ]. Administrative claims data could also be used to test hypotheses about gentrification and housing instability, which can be an enormous psychological and economic stressor for low-income residents and could impact acute cardiovascular events among those with existing cardiovascular comorbidities. In addition, gentrification can increase housing costs and limit low-income people’s resources to cover needed medical expenses such as medications. We would expect these financial stressors to affect asthma emergency department visits (particularly among children), diabetes control, and, in the long-term, incidence of new chronic diseases.

For many of the included studies, aggregate results appeared to mask heterogeneity in the health effects across subpopulations of those exposed. In particular, though only seven studies measured effect modification by race/ethnicity or neighborhood racial composition. We found a suggestive pattern, whereby in several studies, white populations or residents of white neighborhoods appear to benefit from gentrification and Black populations experience adverse health outcomes [ 37 , 83 , 84 ]. For example, Huynh and Gibbons found opposite directional effects in analysis stratified by race but failed to find significant main results, suggesting that subgroup effects masked significant main effects. Articles published after our study have additional associations between gentrification and worse health for Black residents [ 110 , 111 ], but no significant main effects. Together these findings suggest both the need to include tests for differential effects by race/ethnicity in gentrification studies and the potential that gentrification may exacerbate existing racial disparities in health.

Neighborhood change may produce heterogeneous impacts for different residents within changing neighborhoods. As described above, results may differ by race/ethnicity of individuals as well as the composition of neighborhoods. Long-term residents are likely to be most deeply connected with their neighborhoods and therefore most susceptible to disruption of networks via neighborhood change [ 55 , 112 ], but none of the studies we reviewed included length of time in the neighborhood as a control variable. Comparing long-term residents of gentrifying and non-gentrifying previously low-income neighborhoods will help to isolate the impacts of neighborhood SES ascent on health further.

Methodological decisions about exposure and reference groups additionally appeared to impact study results. The included studies considered various control groups, such as residents of high-income and low-income neighborhoods, and we find that more explicit description of the target study population and control group will improve researchers’ ability to assess the effect of these processes on health and disparities in health. For studies of neighborhood gentrification, low-income residents of geographically proximate, continuously low-income neighborhoods may constitute as a meaningful reference group against which to compare low-income residents of gentrifying areas. Residents of continuously low-income neighborhoods experience the likely outcome trajectory in the absence of gentrification, allowing for a less biased estimate of the population average treatment effect.

Neighborhood effects research tends to frame low-income neighborhoods as universally detrimental to health [ 113 , 114 ]. A myopic focus on the damaging impacts of economically deprived neighborhoods overlooks protective health factors that also exist in low-income neighborhoods, before an influx of higher-income individuals, and the potential for neighborhood change to disrupt these resiliency factors. For example, residents living in neighborhoods high in collective efficacy, or mutual trust and willingness to help other community members, have been found to report better overall health than those living in neighborhoods low in collective efficacy, after controlling for a range of individual and neighborhood-level characteristics [ 115 ]. Strong social connections and networks can mediate the effects of structural factors such as poverty and concentrate disadvantage [ 116 ]. Applying an asset-based framing [ 117 ], which suggests consideration of both positive and protective neighborhood factors when examining low-income racially segregated neighborhoods, can help to identify mediating factors that may protect health as neighborhoods change.

Low- and working-class voices are often absent in research on neighborhood change [ 13 , 118 ], but listening to those directly impacted can help develop deeper understandings of neighborhood SES ascent processes, advance epidemiologic research by identifying complex causal processes, and shape policies to better address community needs [ 119 , 120 ]. No included studies applied a Participatory Action Research (PAR), or Community Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) framing, though these and other forms of participatory epidemiology offer frameworks for inclusion [ 121 – 123 ]. Promising work in this area, such as the Healthy Neighborhood Study (HNS), provides a platform to include residents in the research study, definition of outcomes, and identification of mediators of the relationship between neighborhood development and health [ 97 ]. Other participatory research by the authors identified gentrification and displacement as the second most important neighborhood challenge impacting residents in Central Brooklyn in 2017 [ 46 ] and, research conducted with communities across New York found gentrification was among the top three most commonly identified structural psychosocial stressors [ 74 ]. While community organizing and activism are often pitted as enemies of development and rezoning processes, PAR offers opportunities to bring community members, developers, and policymakers to the same table to create understanding and plans for inclusive development. We can learn lessons about the importance, mechanisms, and consequences involved in gentrification from such projects, and PAR generally.

It is unclear whether low-income populations are benefitting from the spatial realignment associated with gentrification and urban redevelopment, and if poverty is re-concentrating in new areas. The limited research on this topic suggests the latter that low-income residents directly displaced by gentrification or who move out of gentrifying neighborhoods often move to even lower-income neighborhoods [ 17 ] or neighborhoods further from cities’ economic cores. But, on average rates of displacement are not higher in gentrifying than non-gentrifying low-income neighborhoods [ 14 , 15 , 28 , 43 ]. Low-income populations tend to live in poor housing conditions and exit, for both consensual and non-consensual reasons, at high rates in all types of neighborhoods [ 36 , 106 ]. Other research suggests that low-income households are often locked out from moving into gentrifying neighborhoods because of high rental prices, and when low-income households move out of gentrifying neighborhoods they are often replaced by higher-income households, creating much of the turnover observed in gentrifying neighborhoods [ 106 ]. Health consequences, however, are not limited to physical displacement or lockout; the loss of social networks spurred by others’ displacement can increase stress levels and detrimentally impact residents [ 83 ].

In part as a consequence of these changing residential configurations, patterns of economic and racial segregation prevalent in cities are replicating in the suburbs [ 124 ]. Our work indicates that between 2005 and 2015, the suburbs had on average lower rates of uninsurance and barriers to health care, but this advantage relative to urban areas fell over the study period and had disappeared by 2015. Nearly 40% of low-income suburban residents had an unmet care need due to cost in the past year, suggesting that if low-income residents move out of or are displaced to the suburbs, they likely face substantial barriers accessing care [ 125 ]. Further, a small body of literature has begun to examine gentrification in suburban areas [ 126 ]. Broadening of gentrification work outside or urban areas reflects more recent increases in suburban poverty and the reality that suburbs have been home to impoverished communities for decades [ 127 ], despite narratives of suburbs as homogenously affluent. Only one article included in our study examined access to health care, and they found that while ED admissions were slightly higher in gentrifying neighborhoods than a non-gentrifying poor neighborhood, hospitalizations were lower in gentrifying neighborhoods [ 80 ]. Further research on how neighborhood change impacts access to health care can assist health departments and providers, particularly safety-net providers, in understanding how to distribute resources and services to better address care needs.


We did not conduct a meta-analysis given the heterogeneity of the study designs, outcomes, data sources, and different ways of measuring gentrification and neighborhood change, and so do not present the range of estimated magnitudes for any outcomes. Additionally, given the limited number of relevant studies, we did not attempt to conduct any significance tests to understand the associations between study features and outcomes. Our results are limited by the time period, search terms, databases and review protocol we employed, and choice of different terms or protocol may have altered the included articles. We are aware of a small number of additional articles that have been published on the topic since the review was completed [ 111 , 128 ] or in journals not indexed in the databases we searched [ 129 ]. However, our terms were broad, and we followed the systematic review with both snowball and structured Google search reviews, to ensure most relevant articles were not overlooked.

We recognize, but intentionally avoid, broader debates on causes of gentrification and debates on new urbanism [ 18 , 130 ]. The literature suggests that a host of both supply and demand factors, as well as geopolitical and historical trends, drive gentrification and urban investment and that these factors are likely location specific in the degree to which they explain gentrification [ 35 ]. Researches have produced numerous works on these subjects, and we find it beyond the scope of this work to engage further in this debate because no studies relate these factors to health outcomes, but acknowledge their importance for understanding the larger implications of processes of divestment, investment, and gentrification. We suggest that future research on the subject consider mediating factors, both the upstream sociopolitical factors affecting the prevalence and intensity of neighborhood change processes, and those factors that mediate the relationship between neighborhood change and health, for example, by examining the level of social support and cohesion, factors that may both confound and mediate the relationship between gentrification and population health. Additionally, a body of literature, produced mostly in Europe, explores how urban renewal and regeneration can contribute to gentrification and other neighborhood change processes, and how in turn these impact health equity [ 131 – 133 ]. We limited the scope of our search to studies directly assessing the relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic ascent processes and health, but recent work in systems thinking offer methods of evaluating these dynamic interrelations and identifying the multiple complex causal processes at play in urban environments [ 134 , 135 ].

Critical gaps exist in the literature examining recent changes in the geographic patterning of populations in the USA and implications for health. Documenting and explaining social inequalities in health is a central task of public health and understanding the geography of inequality is a fundamental tenet of population health. Despite the impacts of gentrification and neighborhood socioeconomic ascent on the public health and the health care fields, both fields have primarily remained on the periphery of public debates around the impacts of neighborhood change processes. We need further research to address this gap, particularly study designs that allow for a causal interpretation of effects—experimental, natural, and quasi-experimental longitudinal designs—and follow people across and within neighborhoods, as well as participatory studies that include the voices of impacted communities. We found that differences in study design, analysis methods, exposure definitions, and control groups explained differences in findings. To allow for comparison of studies across cities, outcomes, and time periods, it is imperative that researchers employ consistent reference groups, include theory-driven controls and exposure measures, consider and describe different types of gentrification and neighborhood change processes, test for subgroup effects where average population effects may obscure differential impacts by group, and explicitly document contextual and historical factors that generate understanding of the larger political and social context in which neighborhoods change.

Our review underscores the relevance of considering neighborhood change to accurately determine prevalence and incidence of area-level health outcomes. Recognizing and documenting where the economically disadvantaged and the affluent reside, and how their contexts affect their health, aids in our understanding of the geographic distribution of health and wellness in the population. Overlooking shifting geographic patterns hinders our ability to accurately assess changes in population health, identify causes of ill or good health, and develop interventions and policies to address inequities.


The authors would like to thank Dr. Jackelyn Hwang for her review of the search terms. This research was supported by a grant from the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness Dissertation Award.

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Shifting Neighborhoods

Gentrification and cultural displacement in American cities


Jason Richardson , Director, Research & Evaluation, NCRC Bruce Mitchell , Ph.D., Senior Research Analyst, NCRC Juan Franco , Senior GIS Specialist, NCRC

March 19, 2019


Gentrification is a powerful force for economic change in our cities, but it is often accompanied by extreme and unnecessary cultural displacement. [1] While gentrification increases the value of properties in areas that suffered from prolonged disinvestment, it also results in rising rents, home and property values. As these rising costs reduce the supply of affordable housing, existing residents, who are often black or Hispanic, are displaced. This prevents them from benefiting from the economic growth and greater availability of services that come with increased investment. Gentrification presents a challenge to communities [2] that are trying to achieve economic revitalization without the disruption that comes with displacement.

This study found that from 2000 through 2013 the following occurred:

  • Gentrification and displacement of long-time residents was most intense in the nation’s biggest cities, and rare in most other places.
  • Gentrification was concentrated in larger cities with vibrant economies, but also appeared in smaller cities where it often impacted areas with the most amenities near central business districts.
  • Displacement of black and Hispanic residents accompanied gentrification in many places and impacted at least 135,000 people in our study period. In Washington, D.C., 20,000 black residents were displaced, and in Portland, Oregon, 13 percent of the black community was displaced over the decade.
  • Seven cities accounted for nearly half of the gentrification nationally: New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Diego and Chicago.
  • Washington, D.C., was the most gentrified city by percentage of eligible neighborhoods that experienced gentrification; New York City was the most gentrified by sheer volume. Neighborhoods were considered to be eligible to gentrify if in 2000 they were in the lower 40 percent of home values and family incomes in that metropolitan area.
  • The study lends weight to what critics say is a concentration not only of wealth, but of wealth-building investment, in just a handful of the nation’s biggest metropolises, while other regions of the country languish.
  • The strict tests for gentrification and displacement  in this study and the limitations of the data available likely undercounted instances of gentrification and displacement.
  • Most low- to moderate-income neighborhoods did not gentrify or revitalize during the period of our study. They remained impoverished, untouched by investments and building booms that occurred in major cities, and vulnerable to future gentrification and displacement.

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A major transformation is occurring in the most prosperous American cities. Many of the 600+ member organizations of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) have raised concerns about gentrification, displacement and transformations in their communities. We wanted to better understand where gentrification and displacement was occurring, and how to measure and monitor it. Does gentrification also mean displacement?

Using U.S. Census Bureau and economic data, NCRC found that many major American cities showed signs of gentrification and some racialized displacement between 2000 and 2013. Gentrification was centered on vibrant downtown business districts, and in about a quarter of the cases it was accompanied by racialized displacement. Displacement disproportionately impacted black and Hispanic residents who were pushed away before they could benefit from increased property values and opportunities in revitalized neighborhoods. This intensified the affordability crisis in the core of our largest cities.

Gentrification was most intense in the nation’s biggest coastal cities, yet in medium to small cities of the nation’s interior it was rare: Most of the nation’s cities and towns did not experience gentrification as measured in this study.

Neighborhoods experience gentrification when an influx of investment and changes to the built environment leads to rising home values, family incomes and educational levels of residents. Cultural displacement occurs when minority areas see a rapid decline in their numbers as affluent, white gentrifiers replace the incumbent residents.

In this study, neighborhoods were considered to be eligible to gentrify if in 2000 they were in the lower 40 percent of home values and family incomes in that metropolitan area.

Measuring gentrification and displacement is fraught with controversy, since people who are impacted by the economic and social transition of their neighborhoods feel the disruption of community ties directly. This study measured gentrification and displacement using empirical methods and data, which has its own flaws and limitations. First, while the use of U.S. census data improves the validity of the study’s findings, it also restricts the population analysis to a time period extending from 2000 to 2010, while the social and economic data were gathered under the U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS) program, covering the period starting in 2000 and until 2009-2013, a five-year consolidation of the social and economic data. This limits our findings to the not-too-distant past. However, neighborhoods with a more recent dynamic of gentrification and displacement could not be covered. Second, the use of census tracts, which average about 4,000 residents, as a proxy for neighborhoods could disguise neighborhood changes taking place at smaller community sizes. As a consequence of these restrictions on the time frame and scale of the study, it should not be implied that other neighborhoods have not experienced the same effects before, during or since the study period. Instead, the study is designed to identify instances of gentrification and displacement that can be measured with a high level of confidence, and avoid falsely noting gentrification where none occurred, but it cannot capture the full-lived reality of residents in gentrifying neighborhoods.

Disinvestment in low- and moderate-income communities results from a long history of discrimination in lending, housing and the exclusionary, racialized practice known as redlining [3] . A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago directly linked community disinvestment with historical redlining practices evident in the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) residential security (“redlining”) maps, completed for all major cities of the U.S. 80 years ago [4] . A 2018 study by NCRC found that three out of four neighborhoods marked “hazardous” by HOLC surveyors in the 1930s are still struggling economically, with lower incomes and higher proportions of minority residents. The economic outcomes for black and Hispanic families residing in disinvested areas are often stunted by lower incomes, fewer businesses and fewer opportunities to build wealth. This history set the stage for gentrification and displacement.

Local advocates and officials should pursue policies that encourage investment while promoting the ability of existing residents to stay and benefit from revitalization. In our 2016 paper, The Community Reinvestment Act: How CRA can promote integration and prevent displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods , we identified several ways in which local stakeholders can promote revitalization to benefit the broader community, such as partnerships between banks and community-based organizations to encourage equitable development; limited-equity co-ops and community land trusts; providing existing tenants with the right of first refusal in apartment conversions coupled with low-income and first-time buyer financing programs; inclusionary zoning regulations; and split tax rates for the incumbent residents of gentrifying neighborhoods. Additionally, HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) process provides an opportunity for community groups to engage with municipal leadership in the planning process. AFFH provides a mechanism for identifying areas that are vulnerable to, or may be in the early stages of, gentrification. Community groups can then work to develop strategies to avoid displacement of incumbent residents by attracting investment and providing affordable housing.

Large and small local banks can also play a role by supporting the development of housing and finance options that accommodate the retention of low- and moderate-income families in the community, rather than excluding them. Bank regulators should recognize pro-integrative bank finance as responsive to the needs of the community, crediting banks for these efforts in their CRA exams. Strategies like those advanced through HUD’s AFFH rule, promoting investment in inclusive and diverse neighborhoods, should be eligible for CRA consideration. It is essential that programs promoting the economic prosperity of incumbent residents of gentrifying neighborhoods be discussed on the public evaluations released subsequent to a CRA exam to document their effectiveness and encourage other banks to apply comparable investment strategies in their markets.


Any discussion of gentrification is likely to elicit a range of responses. A conversation with an NCRC member living in an impoverished and high-crime neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland, culminates with a plea: “When can we get some of that (gentrification) in my community?” Another NCRC member from Portland, Oregon, experiences gentrification as an erosion of community ties, as rents escalate and families are displaced. In Arlington, Virginia, a large rental community of 3,000 mostly Hispanic immigrants drawn by a robust Washington, D.C., economy is uprooted when the property is sold, bulldozed and replaced by a mix of luxury and affordable apartments, which are neither truly affordable nor plentiful for the former tenants [5] . In the rapidly gentrifying Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Temple United Church of Christ, a congregation that had existed since the 1860s and was a landmark of the Civil Rights struggle, is forced to dissolve in 2018 as its membership drops to just 20 congregants [6] . Gentrification is controversial because it affects people at the neighborhood level, it can disrupt the familiar and established ties of a place, creating a disorienting new locale. For people displaced as the neighborhood becomes unaffordable, this is more than just nostalgia or discomfort with the unfamiliar. Often, they must accept longer commutes and a disruption of the support structures provided by their old neighbors and family. In these cases, gentrification is understood as the terminal stage of exclusion of minority (usually black) residents from affordable housing inside the city. Public policy measures starting with “slum clearance” in the 1930s and 1940s then became “urban renewal” (Collins & Shester 2012; Hyra 2012) and construction of the highway system, which split communities in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s (Mohl 2004: Karas 2015), which then became “redevelopment” in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, the remnant of these communities face an affordability crisis as affluent, usually white gentrifiers with access to credit move in and transform the economic and social dynamics of a community.

While community perceptions of gentrification range from hope for better living conditions to anxiety and even hostility, research on gentrification is divided on whether displacement is an inevitable outcome. Some researchers assert that gentrification attendant with displacement is a complex issue and while mobility rates of low-income residents are equivalent in gentrifying and non-gentrifying areas, low-income families are unable to afford to move in and replace exited families as housing costs escalate (Ding, Hwang, and Divringi, 2015). Other researchers found that displacement was rare (Ellen and O’Regan, 2011; Freeman 2005), while others comment on its prevalence (Newman and Wyly, 2006). This divergence of opinion could be because both the scale and type of gentrification vary from place to place. The urban form, or patterns of land-use in U.S. cities, differ considerably in size and structure, and the process of gentrification can involve neighborhoods in a rapid process of change or unfold over decades in larger districts. Additionally, while the residential and commercial aspects of a community are interwoven, gentrification of residential and commercial areas involve slightly different dynamics (Meltzer 2016). Displacement also may take different forms: either racial/ethnic or by class and culture. Finally, Marcuse (1986) argues that in many cases displacement due to systematic urban disinvestment, which resulted in the abandonment of many downtown neighborhoods, often precedes gentrification. For all of these reasons, it is helpful to be clear about the type of gentrification considered, how it is being studied and over what period.

The focus of this report is residential gentrification and racial and ethnic displacement throughout urban areas of the U.S. It is a comprehensive national level analysis of gentrification and displacement in 935 metropolitan areas. The goal was to determine how widespread gentrification was in U.S. urban areas, and then identify neighborhoods where gentrification and displacement occurred simultaneously. The first step of this analysis is to find neighborhoods with indications of gentrification. Utilizing a methodology developed by Columbia University Professor Lance Freeman, the study examines increases in education levels, home values and income as the defining criteria of whether gentrification has occurred in a neighborhood (2005). We determine which neighborhoods (census tracts) show indications of gentrification over the period from 2000-2013. In tracts with indications of gentrification, a second analysis is conducted to examine whether racial/ethnic displacement occurred during the same time period. The research questions addressed by this study are: 1) How prevalent is gentrification and subsequent displacement? 2) Are there regional differences in gentrification and displacement? 3) What census variables are associated with gentrification across the nation?


The term “gentrification” was first coined in the 1960s by British sociologist Ruth Glass (1964) to describe the displacement of the working-class residents of London neighborhoods by middle-class newcomers. From its inception, gentrification has been understood as a form of neighborhood change, resulting in the displacement of incumbent residents of one social class and culture by another more affluent class, linked with an increase in property values. In the case of the United States, the segregated residential structure of American cities creates circumstances in which gentrification often occurs along racial lines. In these cases of gentrification and racial displacement, affluent white incomers often displace the incumbent minority residents.

Gentrification is a complex form of neighborhood change. At the street level, it is visible in the upgrading of the built structure of neighborhoods, as houses are refurbished and businesses established (Krase, 2012; Kreager, Lyons and Hays 2011; Papachristos et al. 2011). While the most basic understanding of gentrification involves the movement of people and investment to affect neighborhood change, it also involves broader political and economic forces. Policy decisions by governments impact both transportation and the availability of services and amenities in a community. The interplay between government and the public in decisions regarding zoning and the allocation of public resources, coupled with decisions by private developers on the investment of capital, deeply influence neighborhood desirability (Zuk et al. 2015). The forces driving neighborhood changes, like gentrification, also involve an interplay between the movement of people, public policy decisions and the availability of capital. Consequently, gentrification is a subject that requires analysis of social, political and economic circumstances.

The economic drivers of neighborhood change involve supply-side dynamics of public investments and land value within the context of the wider metropolitan economy. While working on his PhD at Johns Hopkins University, the late Neil Smith observed the gentrification of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (1979). This stirred him to establish the drivers that lead to gentrification in terms of land rents – the depreciation and physical deterioration of older built structures, and the increase in the potential income returns from the land on which they were built. When the potential income return from land rents exceeds the perception of risk by investors, neighborhoods become likely candidates for redevelopment. While economics explain the flows of capital to gentrifying commercial and residential areas, there are broader cultural factors that have shifted perspectives on the desirability of an urban lifestyle and increased the demand for downtown locations.

Neighborhood lifestyle preferences have always had a powerful role in establishing the desirability of different urban locations. The post-war era saw a shift in both federal policy and consumer culture that had enormous impact on urban residential patterns (Cohen 2004). Economic conditions of the Depression era and production priorities during World War II hindered construction of new housing for over a decade. This contributed to an antiquated stock of urban housing, the supply of which was too small to meet demands of a growing and increasingly affluent population in the post-war era. The availability of mortgage financing through the Housing Act of 1949 sparked a construction boom. Much of the housing was built in suburbs, where developers utilizing economies of scale could find large undeveloped tracts for massive new developments. This accelerated a reconfiguration of the American urban system, as white middle-class residents suburbanized, shifting population and capital away from downtown areas (Jackson 1987). Often, this left the downtown areas of cities with high proportions of minority and low-income residents, resulting in a reduced revenue base and greater demands for city services. This shift in economic prosperity and population away from the downtown areas of cities has become widely accepted as a theory of post-war urban decline; however, urban development varied greatly across the country and should not be taken as the sole explanation of post-war urban development (Beauregard 1993). In the present era, the aging housing stock of inner-ring suburbs has become less desirable as the demands of commuting and allure of downtown amenities have shifted demand for housing closer to the central business district (CBD) of urban areas.

The question “who gentrifies?” is contingent on demographics and class. Many authors cite the role of young millennials in gentrification (Hwang & Lin 2016; Baum-Snow & Hartley 2016; Couture & Handbury 2016; Ding, Hwang & Divringi 2015). Millennials are less likely to harbor racial and ethnic animosity than previous generations (Freeman & Cai, 2015; Owens, 2012; Glaeser & Vigdor, 2012). Many downtown areas of cities have also experienced reductions in violent crime over the last two decades, which could make certain low-income neighborhoods enticing to newcomers (Ellen, Horn & Reed 2016). Increasing work hours and reduction in leisure time has also created a demand to reduce commute time and work closer to home (Edlund, Machade, & Sviatchi 2016). Public policy decisions also have impact. Several researchers cite the role of the HOPE VI program in the demolition of distressed public housing (Goetz 2013; Vale & Gray 2013). Shifts in city level spending on mixed-income developments, parks and bike share enhance downtown desirability (Buehler and Stowe, 2016; Hyra 2012; Tissot, 2011). Finally, many city leaders have acted on the advice of influential urban planners, like Edward Glaeser and Richard Florida, who popularized the idea that the amenities of the downtown areas of cities draw Gen-Xer’s and Millennials who are part of an affluent “creative class” that revitalizes neighborhoods (Clark, 2011; Florida, 2014; Glaeser & Shapiro, 2003). A combination of undervalued property and changing cultural perceptions about the desirability of urban living increases the demand for residences in downtown areas of many U.S. cities.

While gentrification implicitly involves economic transition as a more affluent class replaces the incumbent residents, many researchers also note that there are cultural and racial dimensions to this form of neighborhood change. Millennial perceptions about race have shifted from those of prior generations, so that minority neighborhoods are now seen as “cool and edgy” (Hyra 2016), but that does not necessarily mean they remain inviting or affordable for the incumbent residents. Several researchers found that neighborhoods transitioning to affluence create new social tensions that influence interactions, which can often result in micro-level segregation (Chaskin & Joseph, 2015; Tach, 2014; Hyra 2015). The new residents might shift the community’s focus of concern and the dynamics of political power, including black and white middle-class gentrifiers wielding political influence in local initiatives that sometimes oppose the expansion of affordable housing in their new neighborhoods (Boyd 2005; Hyra 2008; Pattillo 2007).

Despite many studies on the issue a crucial question remains, does gentrification also mean displacement? The economics of gentrification explicitly state that neighborhood property values increase, decreasing the supply of affordable housing available to lower-income residents who are then displaced, as the cost of living in the neighborhood increases. However, several studies indicate that the mobility rates of low-income people are equivalent in gentrifying and more stable low-income neighborhoods (Ding, Hwang & Divringi, 2015; Ellen & O’Regan, 2011; Freeman, 2005; Freeman & Braconi, 2004; McKinnish, Walsh & White, 2010). Some cite this as evidence that widespread displacement is not occurring. However, Hyra (2016) argues that this is an incorrect interpretation that merely shows that low-income rates of mobility are uniformly high across all types of neighborhoods. It’s not that displacement is not occurring in gentrifying neighborhoods, but that in general low-income people move more often. Additionally, the movement of other low-income residents back into gentrifying neighborhoods is constrained by a lack of affordable housing (Ding, Hwang & Divringi, 2015). Over time, the neighborhood experiences a net loss of low-income residents as housing costs rise, and the neighborhood becomes less and less affordable. This transition in the economic status of neighborhoods often occurs along racial lines, as incumbent low-income black and Hispanic residents move and are replaced by higher-income white gentrifiers. Freeman (2005) found a surge in white movement into black neighborhoods since 2000.

The influx of affluent white gentrifiers to formerly low-income minority neighborhoods can be viewed as a form of racial exclusion from urban areas with vibrant economies. There has been increased exclusion of incumbent black homeowners from gentrifying neighborhoods, driven by racial disparities in access to home lending. Black and Hispanic applicants for mortgages in gentrified neighborhoods were 2.32 times and 1.96 times more likely to be denied credit than non-Hispanic white applicants between 1993 and 2000 (Wyly & Hammel 2004). Neighborhood level disparities in access to mortgage credit access have a long history and have been documented in several cities by NCRC (Richardson et al. 2015 & 2016). Rothstein (2017) documents the history of redlining going back to the early part of the 20th century. A combination of local policies related to zoning, restrictive covenants, prohibition of lending in “hazardous” neighborhoods and informal segregationist practices like residential steering and social pressure prevented residents of low-income and minority neighborhoods from gaining access to credit. This pattern of disinvestment prepared the ground for gentrification and displacement in many neighborhoods (Marcuse 1986). Gentrification, which decreases the supply of affordable housing, coupled with policies of public housing demolition (Goetz 2013), have resulted in the displacement of racial minorities and low-income residents in some cities.

This study sought to quantify variations in displacement in U.S. urban areas by assessing changes at the census tract (neighborhood) level using nationwide U.S. census data normalized by the longitudinal tract database (LTDB) [7] . Normalization of the census data is necessary because tract boundaries can change over time, leading to inaccuracies. We analyzed LTDB data for socioeconomic changes during the period 2000 to 2013 for all 50 U.S. states. Population changes were assessed using decennial census data for 2000 and 2010, which was normalized by the LTDB.

Researchers have used several different methods to identify neighborhoods that seem to be experiencing gentrification and to then assess rates of residential change. The study adopted a methodology developed by Freeman (2005) and utilized by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve (Ding, Hwang & Divringi, 2015) and (2015) to locate gentrified areas. The method involves assessing the educational level and economic status of residents, and the value of properties in the neighborhood at the beginning of the census period, then assessing changes in the next U.S. census. This includes several checks:

  • Eligibility determined by tracts in the Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA), which are below the 40 th percentile in both median household income and median house value. In addition, the population must be 500 residents or greater at the beginning of the period.
  • Possible gentrification is determined by including all eligible tracts and then identifying tracts that were in the top 60 th percentile for increases in both median home value and the percentage of college graduates.
  • Determining tract level median household income increases from 2000-2013 when adjusted for inflation is the final check.
  • Census tracts meeting all of the above listed criteria were then identified as undergoing, or having undergone, gentrification.

The criteria for gentrification are all indications that the socioeconomic status of the residents of the tract shifted. We then reviewed each tract for changes in the population of the racial subgroups [8] . These changes were assessed using two criteria;

  • Did the racial group’s percentage of the population decline by more than two standard deviations from the mean of all census tracts? [9]
  • Did the absolute number of residents from that racial group decline by at least five percent?

If the census tract gentrified and met both of these criteria, we identified it as having experienced cultural displacement [10] (Figure 1). Cultural displacement results when the tastes, norms and desires of newcomers supplant and replace those of the incumbent residents (Zukin 2010). Since this kind of cultural transformation of neighborhoods is difficult to measure directly, the decline in minority subpopulation was used as a proxy. Population shifts were examined utilizing decennial census 2000 and 2010 population data.

Gentrification and Displacement Criteria

National changes – Gentrification

Nationally, 90.7 percent, or 67,153 census tracts have a micropolitan or metropolitan designation, and are assigned to an urban area. Of these urban tracts, 16.7 percent or 11,196 tracts met the criteria for being eligible for gentrification in 2000, the beginning of the examination period (Figure 2). A total of 1,049 census tracts met all three of the checks for gentrification: increases in median home value, educational attainment and increases in income by 2013. This amounts to nine percent of the eligible urban census tracts across the U.S. While this seems to indicate that gentrification is rare, the selection criteria was stringent and limited to a relatively short period of time. Gentrification appears to be clustered in sections of larger and economically vibrant cities that are close to central business districts. Residents are drawn to the neighborhoods by proximity to employers, and the clustering of amenities and services associated with an urban lifestyle. Finally, displacement was indicated in 232, or 22 percent, of the gentrified tracts.

Neighborhoods with Indications of Gentrification

While gentrification impacted a minority of census tracts in U.S. cities, it was quite concentrated in the largest urban areas. At the national level, almost a quarter (24 percent) of all urban areas, or CBSAs, saw at least one tract gentrify between 2000 and 2013 (Table 1). CBSAs are urban areas with a population of at least 10,000 and include small micropolitan areas, analogous to towns, and larger metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), or cities. In 13 percent of towns and cities, only one tract gentrified. More moderate levels of gentrification, between two and 10 tracts, occurred in eight percent of towns and cities. Intensive gentrification, cases in which more than 10 tracts underwent gentrification between 2000 and 2013, occurred in three percent of towns and cities nationally.

Numbers of cities with the number of neighborhoods gentrified 2000-2013

We assessed the population sizes of cities in which gentrification was occurring. Gentrification was concentrated in the largest urban areas. CBSAs with a population of one million or greater contained 79 percent of gentrifying tracts. Cities with populations between 500,000 and 1 million comprised another seven percent. Cities with populations between 100,000 and 500,000 contained 10 percent of gentrifying tracts. The smallest cities and towns, under a population of 50,000, contained only four percent of the tracts that gentrified nationally (Figure 3). The map shows that while coastal cities had the largest amount of tracts undergoing gentrification, large cities in the interior like Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh also underwent extensive gentrification.

Cities with the Number of Neighborhoods Gentrified

Cities with the highest rates of gentrification included New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Diego and Chicago (Figure 4). These seven cities accounted for nearly half of the total gentrification nationally, or 501 tracts out of 1,049. It is surprising that Baltimore and Philadelphia metro areas are in the top 10 list, with the fourth and fifth largest number of gentrified tracts in the study, since these cities are not considered among the nation’s most economically dynamic cities. Different patterns of gentrification seem to be evident for the three largest cities (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago), compared with the next three largest (Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore).

Cities with Neighborhoods Gentrified 2000-2013

The three largest metro areas (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago) are in the top seven for the number of neighborhoods which gentrified in Figure 4. The top tier cities in population size have many more neighborhoods, and may be more economically dynamic than second tier and third tier cities. Examining cities by the proportion of neighborhoods eligible in 2000 and which did gentrify over the next 10 years provides a more meaningful indication of the rates of gentrification in some areas (Table 5). Washington, D.C., was the city with the highest percentage of gentrifying neighborhoods, with San Diego, New York City, Atlanta, Baltimore and Portland also having both high numbers of tracts and high rates of gentrification.

Cities Listed by the Intensity of Gentrification 2000-2013

Examining the maps of different cities reveals patterns of concentrated gentrification in some, but more diffuse patterns in others. Analysis of the Baltimore map (figure 5f) indicates the concentration of gentrification around the Inner Harbor that then stretches from downtown north to Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., all show concentrated gentrification around their central business districts, while the pattern of gentrification is more scattered in the largest three cities: Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City (Figures 5a-f).

Major Cities with Gentrified Neighborhoods and Displacement 2000-2013

National changes – Displacement

Cultural displacement was examined by calculating the reduction of black and Hispanic residents in census tracts. Nationally, 187 of the gentrified tracts showed some level of black displacement, and 45 tracts showed Hispanic displacement (Table 3). This impacted over 135,000 people nationally. While white residents increased in most tracts, there were instances in which the Asian and Hispanic residential population increased in tracts experiencing gentrification and black residential population declined.

Numbers of Black and Hispanic Residents Displaced Nationally 2000-2013

Next, we calculated the average losses in metro areas that experienced gentrification and black or Hispanic residential population loss. In the case of black residential displacement, the average loss per tract was 593 black residents (Table 4). New Orleans experienced the most average loss, 1,075 black residents per tract, largely attributable to massive dislocation of neighborhoods caused by the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005. Black residential losses in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia were especially acute due to the high number of tracts involved and their large displacement numbers. More than 20,000 black residents of Washington, D.C., nearly 15,000 in New York City and 12,000 in Philadelphia moved out of gentrifying neighborhoods.

Cities with High Levels of Black Displacement

Tracts with indications of Hispanic displacement were much fewer than those with indications of black displacement, though the average number of displaced residents per tract was similar. In the 45 tracts with indications of Hispanic displacement, the average residential decrease was 542. Denver and Austin had the highest average decreases of Hispanic residents in gentrifying tracts with 1,054 and 1,039 respectively (Table 5).

Cities with High Levels of Hispanic Displacement

In order to examine regional differences in black and Hispanic displacement from gentrifying tracts, we calculated the percentage of gentrifying tracts and tracts with indications of displacement. Cities with the highest levels of black displacement between 2000 and 2010 were concentrated in the South, with nine out of 16 cities with high levels of black displacement located there (Figure 6). Richmond, Charlottesville, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans had the highest percentages of black displacement at the tract level (Figure 6). While Richmond and Charlottesville had moderate levels of gentrification, at least half of the gentrifying tracts in those cities also experienced displacement.

Cities with High Levels of Black

Hispanic displacement occurred in fewer cities than black displacement, and affected 45 census tracts nationally. The city with the largest number of tracts impacted was New York City, where nine tracts had losses indicative of Hispanic displacement. Aside from New York City, Hispanic displacement was most intense in the West, with Denver, Austin, Houston and Dallas having the highest percentages followed by Los Angeles (Figure 7). However, the number of affected tracts were small: five in Denver; four in Austin, Dallas and Houston; and eight in Los Angeles. This difference in the rate of Hispanic and black displacement might be attributed to the high rate of suburbanization for the Hispanic population of those cities, since nationally, 45 percent of Hispanic residents live in areas outside the downtown core. Suburbanization rates of black residents are lower at 39 percent (Massey & Tannen, 2018). The levels of segregation from non-Hispanic whites also diverge widely for the two demographic groups. The most common indicator of segregation is the dissimilarity index, which measures the evenness of the distribution of residents between two groups. At the national level, this index is much higher for white non-Hispanic and black residential areas at .60, than it is for white non-Hispanic and Hispanic residential areas at .40. The Hispanic population also increased quite rapidly over the study period, increasing from 12.5 percent of the population in 2000 to 16.3 percent in 2010. The black percentage of the population increased less, from 12.9 percent in 2000 to 13.6 percent in 2010. The lower levels of demographic displacement of Hispanic residents could be attributable to a combination of population growth, lower segregation relative to non-Hispanic whites and/or decreased frequency of gentrification in Hispanic-majority neighborhoods, which are more likely to be located in suburbs than black-majority tracts.

Cities with High Levels of Hispanic

Critics of gentrification sometimes argue that long-term disinvestment and depopulation of neighborhoods established the economic and social conditions for later cultural displacement (Marcuse 1986). In order to test this, we examined cities with a high number of tracts with black displacement for long-term demographic shifts between 1990 and 2010 (Table 6). The 20-year study period was chosen to capture the impact of demographic changes unfolding over a longer time frame than gentrification, especially in instances where displacement actually preceded gentrification. In most cases, a pattern of decreasing percentages of black, and increasing percentages of white, residents occurred in gentrifying tracts. This tract-level pattern of black decreases and white increases in residents was especially prevalent in Washington, D.C., San Francisco-Oakland, Atlanta, New Orleans and Richmond. Many tracts also showed that there was long-term population loss, indicating abandonment of the area or reduced residential density before or during a demographic transition. This trend was apparent in Baltimore, but especially severe in New Orleans, where the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe forced widespread neighborhood abandonment. Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., had much lower levels of population loss in gentrifying tracts. The cities of Dallas, Richmond, New York City, and especially Atlanta and San Francisco, had high rates of population growth.

Black Displacement and Population Change in Neighborhoods

There were also notable declines in the Hispanic population and increases in white population in many cities between 1990 and 2010. The exceptions to this were in Los Angeles and San Diego (Table 7), where both white and Hispanic populations declined in gentrifying neighborhoods. Linkages between tract-level population loss and demographic change were evident in Denver, Dallas, San Diego and Chicago. Areas of Hispanic displacement in Denver, Houston, Austin and Dallas are shown in figures 8 a-d. All of these cities also contained tracts experiencing black displacement.

Hispanic Displacement and Population Change in Neighborhoods


Past studies of gentrification and displacement have measured neighborhood change by assessing the rates of mobility of incumbent low-income residents in gentrifying areas. Generally, the results showed high but comparable rates of mobility for low-income residents in gentrifying and non-gentrifying tracts, but with low rates of low- income replacement in gentrifying tracts. Consequently, that method of analysis did not directly measure racial/ethnic displacement. This study used a different approach, examining shifts in the racial/ethnic composition of tracts in 2000 and 2010 in order to determine where gentrification and demographic changes were indicative of displacement. National rates of gentrification are low in towns and smaller cities, with 76 percent of urban areas not experiencing any gentrification under our criteria. This may be a conservative estimate due to the requirement of an absolute increase in household income. Another 13 percent experienced gentrification in only one neighborhood, while 8 percent of U.S. cities experienced moderate gentrification. However, the largest population centers experienced intensive gentrification with 3 percent of cities showing indications of gentrification in 10 or more tracts, and 79 percent of gentrifying tracts being within cities with one million or more residents. Though gentrification may be relatively rare at the national level, it can be intensive in the largest cities with dynamic economies. Coastal cities experienced the highest rates of gentrification, with seven out of the top 10 cities in total tracts gentrified being located on the East or West coast.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created 8,000 Opportunity Zones throughout the country to lure investment to struggling neighborhoods. Although those Opportunity Zones were not defined when this study began, preliminary analysis indicates that 70 percent of gentrified neighborhoods are within or adjacent to an Opportunity Zone. However, most Opportunity Zones do not appear to have been gentrified during the study period.

Some questions to investigate in the future: Will Opportunity Zone investments concentrate mainly in booming areas, and skip many others, as we found for gentrification. Will investments flow primarily into Opportunity Zones that are already gentrified, or adjacent to gentrified neighborhoods?

This study indicates that minority displacement is indeed occurring in many cities, where it is often concentrated in areas near the central business district. Displacement of minority groups was high in gentrifying tracts, with 22 percent having indications of high levels of either black or Hispanic residential loss. While larger cities experienced higher levels of gentrification, displacement also seemed to correspond with regional location. Southern cities experienced greater intensity of black displacement, while western cities experienced greater intensity of Hispanic displacement. Additionally, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia were notable for their high levels of black displacement, while Denver and Austin had high levels of Hispanic displacement. These results indicate that gentrification is often accompanied by high levels of cultural displacement. Since the displacement portion of this study was limited to the decades before 2010, it is difficult to assess the proportion of minority neighborhoods which have indications of displacement that will lead to racial and ethnic integration, or resegregate and become white majority areas over time. It is essential to examine the economic and demographic changes which result from gentrification for their impact on equity at the neighborhood level.

Baum-Snow, N. and Hartley, D., 2016, May. Causes and Consequences of Central Neighborhood Change, 1970–2010. In  Research Symposium on Gentrification and Neighborhood Change  (pp. 57-85).

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Boyd, M., 2005. The downside of racial uplift: meaning of gentrification in an African American neighborhood.  City & Society ,  17 (2), pp.265-288.

Buehler, R. and Stowe, J., 2016. Bicycling in the Washington DC Region.  Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington, DC , pp.180-206.

Chaskin, R.J. and Joseph, M.L., 2015. Contested space: Design principles and regulatory regimes in mixed-income communities in Chicago.  The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science ,  660 (1), pp.136-154.

Cohen, L., 2004. A consumers’ republic: The politics of mass consumption in postwar America.  Journal of Consumer Research ,  31 (1), pp.236-239.

Collins, W.J. and Shester, K.L., 2013. Slum clearance and urban renewal in the United States.  American Economic Journal: Applied Economics ,  5 (1), pp.239-73.

Couture, V. and Handbury, J., 2017.  Urban revival in America, 2000 to 2010  (No. w24084). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Ding, L., Hwang, J. and Divringi, W., 2015. Gentrification and residential mobility in Philadelphia. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Discussion papers. October. file.  C:/Users/winifred/Downloads/discussion-paper_ gentrification-and-residential-mobility. pdf (accessed 20 November 2015) .

Edlund, L., Machado, C. and Sviatschi, M., 2017. Gentrification and Rising Returns to Skill.

Ellen, I.G. and O’Regan, K.M., 2011. How low income neighborhoods change: Entry, exit, and enhancement.  Regional Science and Urban Economics ,  41 (2), pp.89-97.

Ellen, I.G., Mertens Horn, K. and Reed, D., 2016. Has falling crime invited gentrification? NYU Furman Center.

Florida, R., 2014. The creative class and economic development.  Economic development quarterly ,  28 (3), pp.196-205.

Freeman, L., 2005. Displacement or succession? Residential mobility in gentrifying neighborhoods.  Urban Affairs Review ,  40 (4), pp.463-491.

Freeman, L., 2009. Neighbourhood diversity, metropolitan segregation and gentrification: What are the links in the US?.  Urban Studies ,  46 (10), pp.2079-2101.

Freeman, L. and Braconi, F., 2004. Gentrification and displacement New York City in the 1990s.  Journal of the American Planning Association ,  70 (1), pp.39-52.

Freeman, L. and Cai, T., 2015. White entry into Black neighborhoods: advent of a new era?.  The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science ,  660 (1), pp.302-318.

Glaeser, E.L. and Shapiro, J.M., 2003. Urban growth in the 1990s: Is city living back?.  Journal of regional science ,  43 (1), pp.139-165.

Glaeser, E. and Vigdor, J., 2012. The end of the segregated century.  Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, January , pp.23-26.

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Goetz, E.G., 2013.  New Deal ruins: Race, economic justice, and public housing policy . Cornell University Press.

Hwang, J. and Lin, J., 2016. What have we learned about the causes of recent gentrification?.  Cityscape ,  18 (3), pp.9-26.

Hyra, D.S., 2008.  The new urban renewal: The economic transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville . University of Chicago Press.

Hyra, D.S., 2012. Conceptualizing the new urban renewal: Comparing the past to the present.  Urban Affairs Review ,  48 (4), pp.498-527.

Hyra, D., 2015. The back-to-the-city movement: Neighbourhood redevelopment and processes of political and cultural displacement.  Urban Studies ,  52 (10), pp.1753-1773.

Hyra, D., 2016. Commentary: Causes and consequences of gentrification and the future of equitable development policy.  Cityscape ,  18 (3), pp.169-178.

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Karas, D., 2015. Highway to inequity: The disparate impact of the interstate highway system on poor and minority communities in American cities.  New Visions for Public Affairs ,  7 , pp.9-21.

Kreager, D.A., Lyons, C.J. and Hays, Z.R., 2011. Urban revitalization and Seattle crime, 1982–2000.  Social Problems ,  58 (4), pp.615-639.

Massey, D.S. and Tannen, J., 2018. Suburbanization and segregation in the United States: 1970–2010.  Ethnic and Racial Studies ,  41 (9), pp.1594-1611.

Marcuse, P., 1986. The beginnings of public housing in New York.  Journal of Urban History ,  12 (4), pp.353-390.

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Papachristos, A.V., Smith, C.M., Scherer, M.L. and Fugiero, M.A., 2011. More coffee, less crime? The relationship between gentrification and neighborhood crime rates in Chicago, 1991 to 2005.  City & Community ,  10 (3), pp.215-240.

Pattillo, M., 2017. Black on the block. In  Racial Structure and Radical Politics in the African Diaspora  (pp. 21-52). Routledge.

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____________________________, 2016. Home mortgage lending in St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and surrounding areas, NCRC

Rothstein, R., 2017.  The color of law: A forgotten history of how our government segregated America . Liveright Publishing.

Smith, N., 1979. Toward a theory of gentrification a back to the city movement by capital, not people.  Journal of the American Planning Association ,  45 (4), pp.538-548.

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Tissot, S., 2011. Of dogs and men: The making of spatial boundaries in a gentrifying neighborhood.  City & Community ,  10 (3), pp.265-284.

Vale, L. and Gray, A., 2013. The displacement decathlon.  Places Journal .

Wyly, E.K. and Hammel, D.J., 2004. Gentrification, segregation, and discrimination in the American urban system.  Environment and Planning A ,  36 (7), pp.1215-1241.

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[1] Cultural displacement results when the tastes, norms, and desires of newcomers supplant and replace those of the incumbent residents, and can also entail the loss of historically and culturally significant institutions for a community.

[2] In this report we have used the words community, city, and metro area interchangeably.  We have also used the census tract as a proxy for neighborhood in many cases and these words should be considered synonymous for our purposes.

[3]  See NCRC report on HOLC and redlining


[5] Arna Valley Apartments



[8] Data on the following racial and ethnic subgroups was used; non-Hispanic White, Black, Hispanic and Asian.  Only the decennial Census offers a low enough sampling error to be of use, limiting our study to data from the 2000 and 2010 Censuses.

[9] The change in population at the census tract level is normally distributed.

[10] Hyra, D., 2015. The back-to-the-city movement: Neighbourhood redevelopment and processes of political and cultural displacement.  Urban Studies ,  52 (10), pp.1753-1773.

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97 Gentrification Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best gentrification topic ideas & essay examples, ✅ most interesting gentrification topics to write about, 🥇 simple & easy gentrification essay titles, ❓ gentrification research questions.

  • Gentrification: Urban Planning in Canada It is important to find a way of addressing the concerns that stakeholders have to eliminate the current controversies in the new approach to urban planning.
  • The Gentrification Issue in Harlem, New York City However, although the process of this phenomenon leads to reconstruction, the methods used threaten the life of the inhabitants of the block. We will write a custom essay specifically for you by our professional experts 808 writers online Learn More
  • Gentrification Problem in Harlem The program seeks to ensure that the proposed developments in Harlem lead to the prosperity of the native residents and the newcomers.
  • Gentrification and Neighborhood Revitalization The opponents of such a solution might refer to the overall advantages of gentrification for the citizens. The overall feedback appraised my justification of the identified problem related to gentrification and emphasized the need for […]
  • Gentrification and Displacement in America In some cases, there is discrimination against the poor by the rich or the powerful, and its primary focus is on the spaces that do not involve low-income earners and people of color.
  • The Effect of Gentrification on Low-Income Families Hook: The effect of gentrification in the urban areas of Baltimore, Maryland, on low-income families. Annotation: This source clearly states the significance of the problem and describes its consequences.
  • Gentrification Definition and Description This implies that the research on the topic will be revealing and insightful and may change the point of view of the author in the course of the investigation.
  • Highland Park Geography Environment and Gentrification This area is usually referred to as the East Side both because of its location and due to the historical composition of the population.
  • Gentrification and Displacement of Urban Areas in Miami, Florida The process of gentrification usually takes a short period that is characterized by the inflation of property prices as well as the displacement of original inhabitants.
  • Gentrification and Community Life in Canada Additionally, there are multiple and diverse phenomena that shape the view of the modern world and stimulate the appearance of new tendencies with their advantages and disadvantages.
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  • Analysis of Different Perspectives of Gentrification In order to understand the concept of gentrification in a better manner, it is good to look at the various perspectives or approaches that, in one way or the other, tend to bring about the […]
  • Impact of Gentrification to a Global City For example, the developments of urban centers like Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in the Indus valley of Mesopotamia due to agricultural activities, revealed massive displacement of the low class from the Indus valley leaving it […]
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  • Mapping the Distribution Pattern of Gentrification Near Urban Parks
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  • Rural Gentrification and Ageing: A Case Study From French Countrysides
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  • The Causes and Effects of Gentrification in the United States
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  • How Is Gentrification Affecting the Redevelopment of Hong Kong?
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  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2023, September 26). 97 Gentrification Essay Topic Ideas & Examples.

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  • Published: 01 November 2023

Exploring differences in perceptions of gentrification, neighborhood satisfaction, social cohesion, and health among residents of two predominantly African American Pittsburgh neighborhoods (n = 60)

  • Alexandra Mendoza-Graf 1 ,
  • Sarah MacCarthy 2 ,
  • Rebecca Collins 1 ,
  • La’Vette Wagner 3 &
  • Tamara Dubowitz 3  

BMC Public Health volume  23 , Article number:  2137 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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Metrics details

Gentrification often leads to changes in the social and physical environment of neighborhoods, which social capital theory has found are connected to aspects of resident health and wellbeing. A growing body of literature has explored the impact of gentrification on health and wellbeing of residents. The goal of this study is to qualitatively explore the ways in which gentrification may have impacted perceptions of neighborhood satisfaction, social cohesion, and health of neighborhood residents (n = 60) from two predominantly Black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of which experienced Black gentrification during the study’s time period. This analysis is unique in its ability to capture experiences of residents who remained in their neighborhood throughout the course of the study, as well as those who moved away from their neighborhood.

Participants were randomly selected from a larger cohort enrolled in a quasi-experimental study and categorized by whether they lived in a census tract that gentrified, whether they owned or rented their home, and whether they moved from the neighborhood or remained in the same place of residence between 2011 and 2018. Phone interviews lasting approximately 30 min were conducted with participants and were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Participants were provided a $40 gift card for their time. Interview data were analyzed using a directed content approach, and Cohen’s Kappa was obtained (k = 0.924) to signal good inter-rater reliability.

Results showed renters in gentrified census tracts overwhelmingly viewed gentrification trends as a negative change compared to homeowners. Overall, participants from gentrified census tracts reported being relatively satisfied with their neighborhood, though some suggested there were fewer resources in the neighborhood over time; felt their social cohesion had deteriorated over time; and more commonly reflected negative health changes over time.


These findings suggest that while gentrification can bring much needed improvements to neighborhoods, it can also bring other disruptive changes that affect the health and wellbeing of existing residents.

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Gentrification represents an urban process that has the potential to change basic social and physical structures within neighborhoods (e.g., increasing home values, neighborhood demographic changes, revitalization of housing and other neighborhood structures). This is important because research has shown that health and wellbeing can be impacted by the social and physical aspects of one’s neighborhood environment [ 1 , 2 , 3 ]. Factors that can typically change in gentrifying settings include: access to food, greenspace, and affordable housing; social support, cohesion, and networks; and feelings of safety, prejudice, or discrimination [ 4 ]. Social capital theory [ 5 , 6 ] suggests that cumulative and transient exposure to factors such as safety, resources (e.g., libraries, recreational facilities, grocery stores, and social services), and social connections are mechanisms through which a change in the neighborhood environment can impact health and wellbeing [ 4 , 7 ]. Specifically, these factors have been found to affect health through their impact on healthcare utilization, health related behaviors, and biological responses [ 4 ]. Given the connections described in social capital theory, there is potential for gentrification to impact changes in health and wellbeing.

Though the definition of gentrification and how to measure it is often disputed, for the purposes of this study, we define it as the process through which disinvested neighborhoods experience renewal, driven by an influx in college educated individuals and upwardly trending housing prices [ 8 , 9 , 10 ]. Further, there continues to be disagreement about whether neighborhood changes brought about by gentrification are generally positive or negative for the health and wellbeing of its residents. Some potentially beneficial changes stemming from gentrification may include increases in investments and redevelopment into disinvested urban neighborhoods, making the neighborhoods more attractive to middle-income households [ 11 ]. Additionally, gentrification may bring about improvements in the residential environment for those who remain in their neighborhood, compared to those from low socioeconomic status neighborhoods that do not gentrify [ 12 ]. On the other hand, studies have warned that gentrification can lead to displacement of residents [ 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 ] and increased outmigration for less educated renters [ 19 ], resulting in a higher likelihood of economically disadvantaged residents moving to lower-income neighborhoods [ 20 ].

Given the potential for gentrification to change the social and physical aspects of neighborhood environments, a growing body of literature seeks to explore various health [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 ] and wellbeing [ 12 , 18 , 26 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 ] factors that may be impacted for residents living in gentrifying neighborhoods. Specifically, qualitative research in this space has described a number of health and wellbeing outcomes that have been found within the context of gentrification, including diminished food security for some residents in gentrifying areas [ 28 , 49 ]; the loss of social support [ 50 ], social ties [ 41 , 51 ], and cohesion [ 41 ] for some existing residents; as well as cultural displacement [ 18 ] and racial discrimination [ 52 ]. Other quantitative work in this area has shown mixed findings for other aspects of health, like mental health, where some studies have found no associations between gentrification and psychotic episodes [ 33 ] nor in changes in psychological distress [ 53 ]; some have found poorer mental health for higher-income older adults in gentrifying neighborhoods compared to similar adults in low-income neighborhoods [ 22 ]; and yet others have found higher degrees of psychological distress for residents in low-income neighborhoods when compared to gentrifying neighborhoods [ 31 ]. These findings should be considered with the caveat that research on gentrification is inherently difficult to conduct, given the difficulty associated with tracking neighborhood residents over time, particularly those who have moved or been displaced.

This research capitalizes on data from a cohort of residents from two neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that are part of a quasi-experimental study, one of which went through processes of gentrification during the study period. This parent quasi-experimental study is unique in that from its original cohort, it continued to follow participants who moved out of the neighborhood, which has not been widely captured in research related to gentrification and health to date. Prior multivariate analyses on the parent study sample suggested differential changes in neighborhood satisfaction and social cohesion over time by whether participants lived in a census tract that gentrified or not, as well as differences in neighborhood satisfaction changes by whether participants owned or rented their homes and whether they moved or remained in the same place of residence during the study period. The current study qualitatively explores the ways in which various changes during the gentrification process may have impacted the health and wellbeing of a subset of neighborhood residents, when compared to those from the other study neighborhood that did not experience gentrification. It uses semi-structured interviews with a subset of participants who were part of the parent study between 2011 and 2018 to understand their opinions of gentrification, neighborhood satisfaction, social cohesion, and health, with attention to differences by gentrification, homeownership, and mover status. This work adds to the current qualitative literature in this space by exploring various aspects of health and wellbeing that have been documented to be impacted by gentrification in other settings, and it also draws on and provides context for prior empirical results [ 8 ] as well as conceptual frameworks outlining how changes in the social and physical neighborhood environment brought about gentrification are connected to changes in health outcomes [ 4 ].

Parent study details

The Pittsburgh Hill/Homewood Research on Neighborhood Change and Health (PHRESH) study is a longitudinal, quasi-experimental study located in two neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Hill District and Homewood (R01CA149105) which began in 2011. The study was designed to understand how changes in the social and physical environment impact health outcomes and other factors among neighborhood residents. At the beginning of the study, both of the neighborhoods were low-income and predominantly Black. During the course of the study, the Hill District experienced substantial increases in neighborhood investments, through the establishment of a full-service supermarket (the first one since the 1980s), the re-development of public housing (including the replacement of some public housing units with mixed-income housing), the renovation and creation of neighborhood greenspace (including several new parks and trails connecting parks), and other commercial investments (including the redevelopment of “Main Street”) [ 54 , 55 , 56 , 57 ]. The parent study participants were selected through a random sample in both neighborhoods, where data collectors enrolled participants through door-to-door recruitment [ 54 ]. The total study sample at 2011 was 1,372 and 597 of those same households were interviewed again in 2018.

There are a total of 13 census tracts between the two study neighborhoods. In the case of the two study neighborhoods, the census tract boundaries align with the boundaries of the neighborhoods as designated by the city. Across those 13 census tracts, 5 experienced gentrification in the form of Black gentrification between 2011 and 2016. Black gentrification specifically describes a gentrification process in which the influx of higher educated residents to a neighborhood is characterized by an increase in Black college educated individuals (rather than the more commonly considered change of increased White college educated individuals moving into a neighborhood) [ 21 ]. All census tracts that experienced gentrification were part of the Hill District neighborhood, the neighborhood that received substantial increases in investments over the study period [ 53 ].

Sampling and data collection procedures

For this study participants in 2018 (i.e., those who responded to an interviewer-administered survey) were selected into categories stratified by: gentrification status (i.e., whether participants lived in study census tract, henceforth referred to as tract, that gentrified between 2011 and 2018), which was determined using a modified version of a measure developed by Freeman [ 9 , 10 ], with a more detailed description of this measure found in our prior analyses [ 53 ]; homeownership status (i.e., whether a participant owned or rented their home between 2011 and 2018), and moving status (i.e., whether participants moved or remained in the same place of residence between 2011 and 2018, hereafter referred to as movers and stable residents) (Fig.  1 ). From these categories, we then randomly selected participants within each group for interview recruitment.

figure 1

Qualitative interview participant breakdown

Recruitment for the interviews was conducted by the cisgender female, African American Field Coordinator of the parent study, who was raised in one of the study neighborhoods (and also had extensive engagement with parent study participants during the entirety of the study [2011–2021]). Participants were contacted by phone and asked to schedule interviews. Of the 180 participants who were contacted, 4 were deceased, 5 refused (either at the time of recruitment or at the time of consent), 108 could not be reached (83 did not answer their phone, 25 had a number listed that was out of service), and 63 participants agreed to do an interview (60 participated in the interview, and 3 were no-shows for their scheduled interview times). We recruited 40 participants from gentrified tracts and 20 participants from tracts that did not experience gentrification during the study period. Based on our prior analyses, we saw relatively more variation in terms of neighborhood change occurring in the gentrifying tracts and felt we needed to interview more participants from gentrified tracts to reach data saturation, which is why we interviewed larger pool of participants from the gentrified tracts. In general, the study population is one that has been difficult to reach in prior data collection efforts. This is likely due to the fact that the larger parent study sample is predominantly older, low-income, and study participants often face issues with lack of telephone service, frequent illness, multiple jobs, or other competing responsibilities. However, we compared descriptive demographic information of those who participated in the interviews and those who could not be reached, and there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups. The final breakdown of interviews can be seen in Fig.  1 , broken down by our categories of interest. The interviewer (AMG) was a cisgender female Latina researcher with experience and training in qualitative data collection and analysis with community members. A total of 60 phone interviews were conducted with PHRESH study participants between February and March of 2021. Participants provided verbal consent, as was approved by the RAND Corporation’s IRB, and interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. The duration of interviews was between 20 and 45 min, with most close to 30 min in length. Each participant was mailed a $40 grocery store gift card as compensation for their time. A description of participants’ demographic characteristics can be viewed in Table  1 .

The interview protocol contained questions about gentrification, satisfaction with their neighborhood, and changes in social cohesion and health, as well as the social context in which these processes occurred. To understand participant views on gentrification, they were read a description of gentrification trends (e.g., increases in housing costs, new businesses coming into the neighborhood, and more people moving out/new, higher-income people moving into the area) and asked whether they felt those trends were happening in their neighborhood. They were also asked about their opinions of such trends and whether they were familiar with the term gentrification. To understand participants’ satisfaction with their neighborhood, they were asked their thoughts about the neighborhood trajectory; the most and least favorite aspects of their neighborhood; and opinions about changes in the neighborhood over time. To understand any changes in social cohesion brought about by changes in participants’ neighborhoods, they were asked whether they had changes in the people they know or their close relationships within their neighborhood and whether and how they like to engage in their communities. Further, for understanding whether there were any health changes that participants associated with changes in their neighborhood, they were first recounted changes they had described in the neighborhood and asked whether they felt these changes had impacted any aspect of their health, including their diet/how they get their groceries, their stress, how they get care, or any other aspect of health they could think of. Finally, interviews with participants were conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of several protest related to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. These factors were thought to potentially also impact participants’ perceptions of their neighborhood (since there may have been protests related to BLM in their neighborhoods or potential closures of local resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic); changes social cohesion (since the COVID-19 pandemic may have led to people keeping more to themselves); and changes in health (due to the risks and implications of contracting the COVID-19 virus). Due to these contextual factors occurring around the time of data collection, participants were also asked about whether they had noticed any changes in their neighborhood or in their personal lives due to these two factors.

The interview data were analyzed using a directed content approach [ 58 ]. Transcripts were reviewed by two researchers with extensive qualitative expertise (AMG and SM) to identify initial themes. An inductive and deductive approach was taken for developing an initial codebook, using both the interview protocol and initial themes to inform the components in the codebook. The codebook was shared with the rest of the research team (TD, BC, LW) to obtain input on the salience of preliminary themes. The two researchers then jointly coded 12 transcripts using Dedoose qualitative software [ 59 ] and made modifications and additions to the codebook as needed. The final codebook contained 4 codes and 17 sub-codes, as well as definitions, inclusion criteria, and example text to assist with coding determinations. Interrater reliability was established using Cohen’s Kappa on a set of 52 excerpts. Cohen’s Kappa was 0.924 representing good interrater reliability. The remaining transcripts were individually coded, and AMG and SM met weekly to discuss any concerns that came up during the coding process. Upon completion of the coding, excerpts for each code were exported to Excel and reviewed to understand the range and frequency of themes, identify additional themes that emerged during the coding process, and to understand any differences by participant type (e.g., gentrification status, homeownership status, and mover status).

The findings from the semi-structured interviews are organized according to the various factors thought to be related to gentrification explored in our prior analyses of the full study sample. This included participants providing their perspectives on gentrification trends in their neighborhoods, satisfaction with their neighborhood, and changes in social cohesion and health, as well as the social context in which these processes occurred. Differences among participants were found on some of these topics based on gentrification status, on whether they moved to another home during the study period, or whether they rented or owned their homes. Sub-group differences on these topics are noted throughout the results, and there were otherwise no notable differences found between participants among the different categories of interest (e.g., gentrification status, mover status, and homeownership status). Exemplary quotes were included through the text to illustrate some of the most salient themes that came up during the interviews and additional quotes can be found in Supplementary Tables  1 , 2 , 3 , and 4 . Additionally, a total of 7 participants (6 from gentrified tracts and 1 from a non-gentrified tract) who moved during the study period were forced to move due to housing renovations, and we note cases where there were any themes that were specific to this population.

  • Gentrification

Conversations about gentrification revealed little understanding of the term among participants, divisions between those in gentrified and non-gentrified tracts on perceptions of change in their neighborhoods, and disagreements between renters and owners on whether these types of trends were generally positive or negative.

Unexpectedly, when participants were asked about the term gentrification, almost none were familiar with the term. Once described, however, the majority of respondents from gentrifying tracts felt gentrification trends (i.e., increased cost of living, new businesses coming to the neighborhood, people moving out and wealthier people moving in) were happening in their neighborhood and agreed that there had been increases in the cost of living and in residential turnover. There was also a recognition that these types of changes placed an additional burden on people of color who had been living in the neighborhood for a number of years, with some specifying that the burden was higher for those who were lower-income.

You know, the home[s] is so expensive, a lot of times people of color can’t afford it…the Hill used to be a mixture. It’s a mixture now. But like I said, the homes, the people that bought these houses, at first, they’re not even there anymore. So, this is just different. Participant from gentrified tract, renter, stable resident They want to come to a place where they can get closer, get to work quicker instead of driving all the way somewhere. So, they’re trying to force the blacks out. Not to be racist or anything, but they are, and they can get more money from one of these college kids, somebody who’s working downtown, somebody who’s making some good money. They don’t mind paying the $1,400 rent. So, it’s like they don’t really want too many black folks up here unless you really got some money really. But otherwise, they’re trying to force us out. Participant from gentrified tract, renter, mover

Further, participants from gentrified tracts were somewhat evenly divided on how they felt about such changes by homeownership status, where renters viewed gentrification as trend that was detrimental to the neighborhood, explaining that the types of changes (i.e., higher costs of living and increased residential turnover) did not seem fair and that the higher prices pushed longtime residents out, and homeowners mostly felt gentrification was a positive change for the neighborhood and relayed the changes may bring more jobs to the area, help to keep up the neighborhood, attract more people and diversity to the neighborhood, and potentially bring more businesses to the area. One renter shared their negative sentiments about gentrification trend, while a homeowner described the benefits of such trends:

I’ve been in the Hill all my life. So, stop chasing people who’ve been here all their lives out. You know, you build a new house and the person who’s been living in the Hill can’t afford it anymore. Where are they supposed to go? They are pushing you out in the suburbs. That’s not where I’m from. And that’s not where I want to be. Participant from gentrified tract, renter, stable resident I think that that’s a good thing because, in order to interest people to come into the area, it has to look decent. And nobody wants to come in and live in beat-down stuff. So, I think that that’s really good. I think that for your neighborhood to look nice you have to keep improving it. Participant from gentrified tract, owner, stable resident

There was less alignment among participants in non-gentrifying tracts, but of those who felt gentrification was happening, most attributed it the construction of new housing, and said they either would not mind or felt positively about the idea of gentrification happening in their neighborhood. Despite the differences in opinions about gentrification, almost all expressed they would want to remain in their neighborhoods regardless of any kind of gentrification trends. Some in particular expressed the importance of being able to stay in their historically Black neighborhoods:

Y’all take our children, y’all take our jobs, y’all take our men, y’all take our lives. Now y’all want to take our homes. What more do y’all want?…We built this foundation. Anything that’s over here, we built it, we loved it. Now, y’all want to come over here and take over for what? Come on now! Participant from gentrified tract, renter, mover
  • Neighborhood satisfaction

Neighborhood satisfaction was explored through the lens of the perceived trajectory of the neighborhood, as well as residents’ most and least favorite aspects of their neighborhood. Differences were found between those from gentrified tracts and non-gentrified tracts on whether they felt their neighborhoods were on a positive trajectory. For most participants, regardless of gentrification, mover, or homeownership status, their favorite aspect of their neighborhood seemed to be the convenience to downtown and other resources, while their least favorite aspect included more variation, with some aspects being common across gentrification status and others differing by gentrification status.

Trajectory of the neighborhood. While responses from participants living in non-gentrified census tracts varied, participants from gentrified census tracts generally felt their neighborhood was on a positive trajectory. One nuance to these findings, however, was that a few participants from gentrified tracts felt this was only the case for certain groups of people (e.g., higher income, non-Black residents).

They don’t treat low income the way they treat the higher pay, rich people. And it’s not supposed to be that. That’s discrimination. And it happens every day, but we as Black people are afraid of authority and will not speak up. Participant from gentrified tract, renter, mover

Most favorite aspects of neighborhoods. Across both types of tracts, participants reflected positively on their neighborhood’s convenience. Participants from gentrified neighborhoods often said they appreciated the safety and quiet, the housing improvements, the increased police presence, and to a lesser extent, the diversity and political progressiveness of the neighborhood. One participant who was particularly enthusiastic about improvements in housing shared:

They did the greatest thing. They remodeled. They turned apartments into houses. That was good. So, we can keep our grandkids and things. We got houses now up there. I felt really good about it, excellent. That was long time overdue. We all need it. Participant from gentrified tract, renter, mover

Residents did share some caveats about the improvements to housing, including: some residents not being able to move back to their buildings; the closure of local businesses to clear the way for the construction; and diminished affordability and quality (one person even stating the walls were separating from one another in one room). Some felt that since some buildings were transformed into mixed-income housing, the new or renovated housing no longer catered to just low-income populations, leading some social services to leave the area. Further, some of the mixed-income housing seemed to separate residents into different sections and buildings, and residents felt the upkeep and quality of the low-income parts was subpar. Finally, it was shared that some of the rules and regulations of the new housing developments were too strict (e.g., people were not allowed to sit out on stoops, children could not ride bikes in the building areas, etc.). Only residents in non-gentrifying tracts mentioned appreciating the people and neighbors in the area, as they felt this contributed to having a good community.

Least favorite aspects of neighborhoods. Neighborhood aspects that were disliked from participants across gentrified and non-gentrified tracts included: violence in the neighborhood (e.g., shooting and fighting); the lack of resources and activities available for children and seniors (e.g., good playgrounds, places for recreation, places to sit down and eat, etc.); the departure of the grocery store in the Hill District ( note that during the study, the full-service supermarket opened in the neighborhood that went through gentrification in 2013, but shuttered in 2019 ); and all of the vacant properties. The perception that there were fewer resources in participants’ neighborhood was particularly prevalent among permanent residents, but overall, most participants said they had to leave the neighborhood to access needed resources, and this was particularly pronounced for participants in gentrifying tracts once the grocery store closed. One participant from a gentrified tract who felt there were fewer resources in the neighborhood shared that:

You ain’t got nowhere to eat over here and I think that’s terrible. That’s my thing, stuff like that. Not even for these kids, they had no recreation like we had, they ain’t got nothing over here for these kids nothing and then you all want to sit up and talk about it. They hanging out, well they ain’t got nothing to do…When we were all kids, we had three recreation centers on one street. Participant from gentrified tract, renter, stable resident

Participants from the gentrified tracts also said they disliked the lack of maintenance (e.g., of buildings, sidewalks, and streets); issues of drug use; and the perceived lack of responsiveness from local representatives. Participants from the non-gentrified tracts disliked the lack of police presence, and issues with people coming into the neighborhood from other areas to cause trouble.

Social cohesion changes

Social cohesion was explored through the lens of neighborhood interactions, as well as community engagement. In terms of neighborhood interactions, most participants felt they had some close relationships in the neighborhood, but there was variation by gentrification status on the frequency and quality of interactions with people in their neighborhood over time. Further, differences were found between renters and homeowners on whether they liked to engage in their neighborhoods, and this also sometimes varied by gentrification status.

Neighborhood Interactions. Overall, the majority of participants in both types of tracts said they had at least some close relationships or people they could turn to in the neighborhood if they needed help. Contradictingly, however, there were also comments from participants in both types of tracts saying new residents moving into the neighborhood did not seem to be as friendly or willing to come together as prior residents. In gentrified tracts, some shared they mostly kept to themselves and did not know many people despite having lived in the area for years, while others felt they knew almost everyone in their neighborhood. Similarly, in non-gentrified tracts, some participants said they knew and interacted with a lot of people and others said they prefer to keep to themselves. With regard to feeling like newer neighbors were less friendly, several participants from gentrified tracts recounted:

It used to be, people in the neighborhood looked out for each other, you know?… I was telling you like my nephew passed away…he was just getting out of his car and just passed out. On the street, nobody came around…They stood across the street where I live, just looking…But they didn’t say anything. Participant from gentrified tract, owner, stable resident The only time you see somebody is if something happens, they might look out the door. But you don’t see people unless there’s something bad. People don’t bother… I’m used to, “How you doing? Good morning.” Whatever. And people just don’t do it, they just don’t care. Participant from gentrified tract, owner, stable resident I still have close friends, but I just I mean I’m not close with a whole lot of people. When I was growing up, everybody knew everybody and we all got along, but now that I’m older like I said some moved away, some are dead, some we kind of drifted apart as our lives changed…Back then, people looked out for one another. You don’t have that anymore. Participant from gentrified tract, owner, stable resident

In both types of tracts, several participants who moved away suggested they were not very close with people in their new neighborhoods. Additionally, some residents who moved as a result of being forced to move when there was renovation of housing in their neighborhood shared the difficulties of living in a place that was not their first choice. One older resident who moved due to housing renovations described the difficulties it caused:

Up there, it’s isolated up there. It’s up on top of the hill. You have to leave from up there to get any type of services, anything. You know, I hated every second of that project up there, yeah… I didn’t – I just didn’t associate too much with the people. I worked up there on the polls in Arlington, and that was about it. You know, they have nothing for the seniors up there. Most of the stuff was geared towards the young kids, you know. Participant from gentrified tract, renter, mover

Some differences emerged by gentrification status, where participants from gentrified tracts mostly said they had fewer interactions with people in their neighborhood over time due to fewer neighborhood activities; having to move away themselves; others moving away and new people moving in; houses in the neighborhood being torn down; or more strict restrictions in newer housing complexes (e.g., not being able to all sit out and watch kids play or ride their bikes because they have to play outside of the property). One participant who felt there were fewer neighborhood activities shared the difficulty it brought for socializing:

I think that there’s new housing, but there’s not a lot of activities or things to do in a neighborhood. So, I think that people moving into the neighborhood are still doing things, wherever they came from because there’s nothing to do here. So, you’re really not meeting them and socializing with them…It was different before. Participant from gentrified neighborhood, owner, stable resident

Community Engagement. The majority of participants across both types of tracts said they like to engage in their respective communities, though this was somewhat more commonly heard from participants in the non-gentrified tracts. Within the respective types of tracts, one nuance was that there were differences in opinions about this between renters and homeowners, where a much higher proportion of homeowners said they liked to engage in their community than renters. Some homeowners in gentrified tracts, however, felt it had become more difficult to engage in their communities because information about neighborhood changes was not always readily available nor were residents always included in conversations or decisions about changes in the neighborhood.

I think that there are changes happening. But I think that the meetings are held at strange times, so everybody can’t participate in them. And I think that it’s a handful of people who are making decisions or suggesting things, but it’s not open to the community. It’s very hard to find out about things. And, when you do find out, everything’s already in gear. Participant from gentrified neighborhood, owner, stable resident

Further, several participants from non-gentrified tracts felt there was lack of community togetherness and community meetings.

It’s about the whole community coming together and stick together to make a change, we make a change when you come together, that’s when things change, but when you separate, then you can’t resolve anything. So that’s the main problem, people don’t want to come together, they all complain, but they don’t want to come together. Participant from non-gentrified neighborhood, renter, stable resident

Health changes

Participants had a range of responses they provided with respect to changes in their health. More often participants from gentrified tracts indicated that their health had been impacted negatively due to neighborhood changes and commonly described diminished ability to exercise due to changes in the neighborhood, as well as an increase in stress, often due to having to move to another home. One participant who had to relocate during a renovation shared the difficult experience of having to move somewhere that was unsafe:

Living in the projects can make you or break you…And it plays a little on your psyche…when I found out I was able to move back [after renovations], I was never so happy. It seemed like the whole time that I lived up in [the projects], there was a shooting every day, every day, there was some type of violence. I remember on Christmas Eve; they had a whole shootout in my court…they shot up the steps and the concrete steps fell. Like it was so much crazy. A guy I went to school with, I watched him die outside…And I saved someone from dying. Like it was a lot. Participant from gentrified neighborhood, renter, mover

Other commonly mentioned reasons for health changes were related to changes in neighborhood resources over the last several years, including difficulties with getting groceries, accessing a pharmacy, and accessing other social services, due to the recent closure of the only grocery store in the neighborhood and the departure of services catering to lower-income populations. On the other hand, participants from non-gentrified tracts mostly felt their health did not change much over time.

Context of COVID-19 and the black lives matter movement

Important contextual events occurred during the course of this study (February through March of 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic prompted participants to reflect on changes in access to resources and sense of community connection. Additionally, many noted that COVID-19 impacted either their own health or that of their family. A few people shared feeling very isolated and depressed over not being able to spend time with friends, family or neighbors or not being able to see spouses or other family living in nursing homes. Others relayed feeling more anxious due to having lost their jobs during the pandemic. Some participants also mentioned changes in their physical activity either due to the closure of fitness centers or to hesitancy around being out in public. The BLM movement, which came to somewhat of a tipping point with the killing of George Floyd in May of 2020, generated less of a response among participants, though some felt that more attention was now being paid to issues related to the BLM movement. Some also felt there was more police presence due to the BLM movement, though there were disagreements about whether this was favorable for the community, and there were also others who expressed a displeasure with the looting that occurred during some marches, as it reminded them of looting that negatively impacted their communities after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The goal of this study was to better understand differences, including the processes and mechanisms, found in prior analyses on the relationship between gentrification and neighborhood satisfaction, social cohesion, and health among study participants from two neighborhoods, one of which experienced gentrification [ 8 ]. Results from the interviews suggested some differences among participants by gentrification, homeownership, and moving status.

Renters in gentrifying tracts overwhelmingly viewed gentrification trends in the neighborhood as a negative change, while homeowners were more likely to view gentrification trends positively. This is consistent with other studies finding homeowners being more likely to approve of changes in gentrifying neighborhoods than renters [ 60 , 61 ]. These differences make sense if we consider that gentrification trends are often accompanied by rising housing prices, which for homeowners translates into increased home values, while for renters, this will often manifest in rising rents, creating added financial pressures for renters.

Overall, participants from gentrified census tracts felt their neighborhood was generally on a positive trajectory compared to those from tracts that did not gentrify. Despite their feelings about general neighborhood trajectories, permanent residents from gentrified tracts more commonly suggested they had fewer resources in their neighborhood than before, when compared to those who moved to another place of residence. These findings seem to align with other studies that showed increases in satisfaction in gentrifying neighborhoods compared to low-income neighborhoods [ 42 ] and lower satisfaction for long-term residents of gentrifying neighborhoods versus newer residents [ 43 ]. These seemingly conflicting findings could be explained by the fact that although gentrification can bring about needed improvements to an area, it can also impact the resource landscape of a neighborhood, changing the availability and accessibility of resources for more permanent residents.

Participants from gentrified tracts mostly felt they had fewer interactions with neighbors, were not as close to people in the neighborhood, and that newer, younger residents were not as friendly as others in the past. These findings align with others showing that gentrification resulted in residents experiencing disruptions in social ties and lack of inter-generational cohesion [ 41 ], as well as smaller increases in social cohesion [ 53 ]. This may be due to the fact that changes happening in gentrifying neighborhoods, such as residential turnover, can break social ties for existing residents but also make it difficult to build new relationships with incoming residents when turnover occurs more frequently.

Participants referenced changes in mental health as well as other aspects of health, especially due to moving. Further, participants from gentrified tracts more commonly reflected negative health changes because of decreases in neighborhood resources over time and closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas health changes in non-gentrified tracts were more commonly due to issues of safety and violence in the community. These findings are somewhat different from others in the literature showing gentrification is associated with improved aspects of health, such as self-rated health [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 31 ] and hypertension [ 29 ]. Rather, our findings seem to align with studies that find more detrimental health outcomes for Black residents in gentrifying neighborhoods [ 21 ], and particularly with regard to self-rated health [ 31 ]. These findings should be considered within the context of the historical discrimination of Black populations with regard to land use, housing, and planning policy, which to this day contribute to differential outcomes for Black populations.

Taken together, these findings paint a complex picture of the experience of gentrification for Black populations in this specific Pittsburgh neighborhood. Overall, it seems that participants who were renters from gentrified census tracts were more likely to feel the pressures of rising housing costs and generally felt less engaged in community activities and decisions, and they were also more likely to have moved to another residence during the study period, which contributed to a sense of disconnect from their community. These experiences differed from participants who were homeowners from gentrified tracts, in that the homeowners were less likely to feel pressures from rising housing costs and therefore seemed to have more of an opportunity to embrace some gentrification changes and benefit from neighborhood improvements. Both renters and homeowners in gentrified tracts, however, seemed to be negatively impacted from resources leaving the neighborhood over time, suggesting there may be some aspects of gentrification that disproportionately affect sub-segments of a neighborhood, while other aspects can have a broader impact on most neighborhood residents.

Limitations and strengths

There was a high number of non-respondents during recruitment, making it possible that participants were somehow different from those who did not respond. It is also possible that the interview results were impacted by other external events happening at the time besides gentrification, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the BLM Movement. Additionally, given the qualitative nature of the study and the fact that this research explored potential impacts of gentrification, and particularly Black gentrification, in a predominantly Black neighborhood, the results may not be applicable to other settings beyond the parent study population or other similar types of neighborhoods, and it cannot establish causal relationships between gentrification and neighborhood satisfaction, social cohesion, and health. Another aspect that could impact the applicability of these findings to other settings is the fact that there were a large number of planned investments made in the Hill District, which may make the gentrification experience different than other neighborhoods where gentrification is more so driven by migration patterns and market forces. Further, although this is a study about the relationship between gentrification and the health and wellbeing of residents, residents were largely not familiar with the term “gentrification” (though they did think there were significant changes happening in the neighborhood). It is possible that categorizing areas as “gentrified” may sometimes be a term imposed on a community, and greater efforts should be made to understand how community residents characterize the changes happening in their neighborhoods. Finally, given that we knew prior to the interviews that there was not much of a change in the racial makeup of the neighborhood, we did not specifically probe on racial aspects of gentrification typically considered, such as racialized housing, though some perceptions about how neighborhood changes related to race were brought up in participants’ responses. Future studies should consider probing on differential experiences of gentrification related to race even for instances of gentrification that do not feature much change in the racial makeup of the neighborhood. This study, however, provides a unique perspective on the potential impacts of Black gentrification in predominantly Black neighborhoods, particularly due to the ability to obtain perspectives from both residents who remained in gentrified census tracts as well as those who moved away during the process of gentrification.

Findings from this study provide context to help further understand what aspects of health and wellbeing may be more impacted by neighborhood change for Black residents and showcase potential areas for future research. Given our findings, there are a few potential factors that community stakeholders should consider for mitigating detrimental effects to neighborhood residents. Some of the policy options available to help ease pressures on renters in gentrifying neighborhoods are that state and local governments can provide affordable housing provisions in the form of rent subsidies or rent control, as well as tax abatement policies that allow landlords to close gaps between rising market rents and what they receive from long-term tenants [ 62 ]. Further, given our results suggesting residents generally want to remain in their neighborhoods, regardless of gentrification, developers and landlords can play a part in ensuring this is a possibility by providing tenant’s the first right to return to housing after any renovations, and state and regional policy makers can provide home purchasing assistance for those who wish to remain in the neighborhood as homeowners [ 62 ]. Additionally, considering some of the health impacts to residents from gentrified census tracts were thought to be due to resources leaving the neighborhood, local businesses, local policymakers and community-based organizations should consider ways for residents to continue accessing their services by either retaining presence in neighborhoods or providing other options, such as shuttles or travel vouchers for residents to continue accessing services if they move their organization to another neighborhood. Also, for new resources coming into a neighborhood, such as businesses looking to establish a presence in the neighborhood, consideration should be given to the range of residents represented to ensure new resources cater to the full range of the neighborhood population rather than just a sub-section of it. Finally, given our findings suggesting a mix of improvements and negative changes stemming from gentrification, some successful strategies that have been identified for ensuring more positive changes include community participation and bottom-up planning processes [ 13 , 62 , 63 , 64 ]. To that effect, local elected officials and decision-making bodies should take greater efforts to involve community members in development decisions. In terms of extending this body of work, future research should explore whether similar outcomes can be seen in other geographical areas with different socio-demographic profiles. Further, studies should continue to explore and further refine terminology related to gentrification, biomarkers to track the impact of stress and other aspects of health in the context of gentrification and should continue to build out theory around the relationships between gentrification and health and wellbeing. Taken together, this study contributes important contextual information on previously observed differences in health and wellbeing for residents in gentrifying neighborhoods as well as insights that can help to inform policy in gentrifying spaces.

Data Availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.

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AMG, co-developed the interview protocol, conducted the interviews for the study, co-led the analysis, and developed an early draft of the manuscript. SM contributed to the development of the interview protocol, co-led the analysis of the interviews and contributed to the writing of the Methods and Results of the manuscript. RC contributed to the development of the interview protocol, and contributed to the writing of the Background and Discussion of the manuscript. LW reviewed and edited the interview protocol, helped with interview recruitment, reviewed and provided feedback for all parts of the manuscript. TD contributed to the development of the interview protocol and contributed to the writing of the Background and Discussion of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Mendoza-Graf, A., MacCarthy, S., Collins, R. et al. Exploring differences in perceptions of gentrification, neighborhood satisfaction, social cohesion, and health among residents of two predominantly African American Pittsburgh neighborhoods (n = 60). BMC Public Health 23 , 2137 (2023).

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This chapter reviews the recent evidence in Urban Economics on gentrification. The first part of the chapter provides a definition of gentrification and describes recent trends in academic research and popular interest in the topic. The chapter then presents evidence on the causes of gentrification, followed by consequences of gentrification. Four main factors that can spur gentrification in neighborhoods are analyzed: changes in amenities, labor markets, commuting, and housing markets. The chapter then reviews papers showing the consequences of gentrification in six main areas: housing costs, amenities, displacement of poorer households, local employment, health, and human capital accumulation of children. The chapter then summarizes the consequences of gentrification in terms of wage and welfare inequalities between low-income and high-income individuals. The chapter concludes by reviewing the literature that can guide the policy analysis about how to alleviate the housing affordability issues generated by gentrification. Throughout the chapter, avenues for further research are outlined.

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Responsible Section Editor: José Alberto Molina

The article has benefitted from valuable comments of the editors. Financial support by Fundación Ramón Areces through the XIX Concurso Nacionalpara la Adjudicación de Ayudas a la Investigación en Ciencias Sociales and PID2021-127822NA-I00 (AEI/MICINN) is gratefully noted by Federico Curci. The authors thank Stefano D’Angelo for the research assistance. There is no conflict of interest.

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Curci, F., Yousaf, H. (2023). Gentrification. In: Zimmermann, K.F. (eds) Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics. Springer, Cham.

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great works in literature II 2850 kta  2:55-4:35— Shades of Truth . . .

  • Assignments Due: May 19th, 12 pm, noon
  • Critical Response Essay #1
  • Final Project
  • Oral: A Creative Dialogue/Rubric/Presentations
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Essay 2 Thesis Statement and Outline

Gentrification has negatively affected all the historically Black and Latino neighborhoods such as Harlem or Bedford Stuyvesant in New York City.

In this essay I will talk about the authors bias attitude about the neighborhoods he discusses by pointing out his negative comments about what Spike Lee has said about gentrification and who suffers from it and why. I will compare this against what the author believes is positive about the displacement of people who have inhabited a place for good amount of time. I will also assess a response made by Spike Lee via Twitter to correct the author about his comments of Mr. Lee. If it is possible I will include my own experience as a member of the Harlem community. To culminate I will talk about who was targeted to read these two responses and how it was successful in doing so.

3 Responses to Essay 2 Thesis Statement and Outline

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Your plan for the essay is really narrowed and focused and I think you can have a very good analysis especially if you have personal on hand experience pertaining to this topic. The only thing of concern is your thesis statement. You should make your thesis more specific like when did the gentrification start and how has it negatively impacted these neighborhoods. In your thesis, you didn’t mention that there was an author that had a bias on this subject, so you could probably mention that in a more narrowed version of your statement.

-Sumaiyah Ali

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Karia, It sounds like you have an interesting article and secondary source, and it looks like you’ve done some important thinking about this, but you need to hone your thesis a bit. Remember, you are to analyze the article’s effectiveness in reaching a specific demographic, and that should actually be your thesis. Perhaps, for example, the writer is successful (or not, this is your decision) in part because he or she uses fallacies that appeal to the audience (specific demographic).

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This sounds like a really intriguing paper that touches upon a controversial issue especially relevant to us as New York City residents where gentrification is transpiring everyday. I like how you will be addressing both the positive and negative effects of gentrification and how your personal experience as a resident may shed light on how effective or valid the points the author made in his opinion are. If you are able to develop this portion of your paper effectively and can show how the target demographic is affected by his opinions you are going to have a really strong paper!

-Matthew Epstein

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Dissertations / Theses on the topic 'Gentrification'

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Castagnola, Michael. "Gentrification without displacement." Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2015.

Lyons, Michal. "Gentrification in context." Thesis, London South Bank University, 1994.

Schlueter, Sebastian. "Faith in gentrification." Doctoral thesis, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2017.

Gafvert, Rebecca C. "Mapping the Path of Gentrification: An Analysis of Gentrification Susceptibility in Cincinnati, Ohio." University of Cincinnati / OhioLINK, 2011.

Mills, Caroline Ann. "Interpreting gentrification : postindustrial, postpatriarchal, postmodern?" Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1989.

Thrash, Tunna E. 1975. "Commercial gentrification : trends and solutions." Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001.

Baxter, Herman Leon. "Toward a Theory of Gentrification." Miami University / OhioLINK, 2009.

Yeom, Minkyu Yeom. "IDENTIFYING, EXPLAINING, AND RETHINKING GENTRIFICATION." Cleveland State University / OhioLINK, 2018.

Tourigny, Mark Claude. "Gentrification : an intra-urban predictive model." Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1988.

Davidson, Mark. "New build gentrification : London's riverside renaissance." Thesis, King's College London (University of London), 2006.

Baker, Emma. "Gentrification and gender effects in North Adelaide /." Title page, contents and abstract only, 1997.

Wheway, Craig James. "The transformation of English market towns : gentrification." Thesis, University of Leicester, 2012.

Catherine, Pettersson. "Exploring regeneration and gentrification on Norra Grängesbergsgatan." Thesis, Malmö universitet, Institutionen för Urbana Studier (US), 2021.

Smith, JaLysa. "Small Business Profitability Strategies During Retail Gentrification." ScholarWorks, 2017.

Allison, Janelle. "Rethinking gentrification : looking beyond the chaotic concept : a case study of the landscape of gentrification in Spring Hill, Brisbane." Thesis, Queensland University of Technology, 1995.

Childers, Roberts Amy. "Gentrification and school choice: Where goes the neighborhood?" Digital Archive @ GSU, 2012.

Camrud, Natalie. "Race, Class, and Gentrification Along the Atlanta BeltLine." Scholarship @ Claremont, 2017.

Webb, Michael David. "Urban Revitalization, Urban Regimes, and Contemporary Gentrification Processes." The Ohio State University, 2013.

LEE, SO YOUNG. "Understanding of Relationship between HOPE VI and Gentrification." The Ohio State University, 2017.

Ravuri, Evelyn. "Gentrification and Racial Transformation in Cincinnati, 2000-2016." University of Cincinnati / OhioLINK, 2019.

Ribeiro, Daniel de Albuquerque. "Gentrification no Parque Histórico do Pelourinho, Salvador/BA." Instituto de Geociências, Universidade Federal da Bahia, 2011.

Lindemann, Sven. "Defending Communities : An Analysis of Anti-Gentrification Measures." Thesis, KTH, Urbana och regionala studier, 2019.

Ressa, Valeria Chiara <1992&gt. "Disuguaglianze abitative e gentrification. Il caso di Torino." Master's Degree Thesis, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, 2021.

Johns-Wolfe, Elaina. "The Geography of Gentrification: Evaluating the Role of Measurement and Spatiotemporal Context on Gentrification Patterns in the United States, 1980 to 2017." University of Cincinnati / OhioLINK, 2020.

Shaw, Kirstyn E. L. "Beyond gentrification : a new phase of inner city resettlement? /." [St. Lucia, Qld.], 2004.

Lohne, Marte. "The hidden Conflict : A study of gentrification in progress." Thesis, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, Sosialantropologisk institutt, 2011.

Higley, Rebecca Claire. "'Other' processes of rural gentrification and counter-urban migration." Thesis, University of Brighton, 2008.

Shah, Preena. "Coastal gentrification : the coastification of St Leonards-on-Sea." Thesis, Loughborough University, 2011.

Miller, William Jordan. "A Model for Identifying Gentrification in East Nashville, Tennessee." UKnowledge, 2015.

Thibault, Jeff. "Eminent Domain: The Taking Of Private Property For Gentrification." Honors in the Major Thesis, University of Central Florida, 2005.

Alharbi, Hanadi Abdullah K. "Gentrification in the central zone of Medina, Saudi Arabia." Thesis, University of Leicester, 2018.

Garza, Jorge. "Gentrification, Neoliberalism and Place Displacement and Resistance in Flagstaff." Thesis, Northern Arizona University, 2019.

This thesis connects the lived experience of displacement to the greater paradigm of neoliberalism. The presence of neoliberalism is insidious and ubiquitous and yet even its existence is disputed in the literature. Neoliberalism is not only capitalism on steroids, bigger and in more places, but a new regime of logic that reduces human relations to profit, naturalizes competition and pushes responsibility onto the individual. Urban space in America and especially the process of gentrification, the reshaping of the built environment to facilitate profit, is a powerful space of expression of neoliberal policies in everyday life. Displacement is a violent and dehumanizing realization of the commodification of land. This research follows the lived experience of families displaced from a mobile home park in Flagstaff, Arizona. Residents received a letter of eviction a week before Thanksgiving of 2017 and the mobile home park was boarded up by July of the following year. Through in-depth interviews with the residents and participant observation in the ensuing movement to keep these families in their homes, this research compiles the lived experience of these individuals and provides an analysis of their situation. Paulo Freire argued that every person has the ability to understand and build solutions to their reality in them. This research hopes to illuminate the lived experience of neoliberalism, gentrification, and offer a powerful message of generative solidarity collaboratively distilled from the experience of the displaced residents.

Igwe, Ezinne. "Formalizing Nollywood : gentrification in the contemporary Nigerian film industry." Thesis, Birmingham City University, 2018.

Hwang, Jackelyn. "Gentrification, Race, and Immigration in the Changing American City." Thesis, Harvard University, 2015.

Goworowska, Justyna. "Gentrification, displacement and the ethnic neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn /." Connect to title online (Scholars' Bank), 2008.

Goworowska, Justyna 1981. "Gentrification, Displacement and the Ethnic Neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn." Thesis, University of Oregon, 2008.

Cocola, Gant Agustin. "Struggling with the leisure class : tourism, gentrification and displacement." Thesis, Cardiff University, 2018.

Gervasi, Maria Angelica. "Geocultura delle identità urbane e gentrification. Il caso Belleville." Doctoral thesis, Università di Catania, 2014.

Hansan, John Kent. "Gentrification in the Short North: from run down to downtown." Connect to resource, 2005.

Eken, Tugce. "Gentrification In Fener Balat Neighborhoods: The Role Of Involved Actors." Master's thesis, METU, 2010.

Holmes, David C. "Stakeholders' Perceptions of Risk for Gentrification in Atlanta's Pittsburgh Neighborhood." Digital Archive @ GSU, 2011.

Bridge, Gary. "Gentrification, class, and community : a study of Sands End, London." Thesis, University of Oxford, 1990.

Mavrommatis, George. "Gentrification and difference : the case of Brixton and Brick Lane." Thesis, Goldsmiths College (University of London), 2003.

Foster, Genea (Genea Chantell). "The role of environmental justice in the fight against gentrification." Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2016.

Glatter, Jan. "Gentrification in Ostdeutschland – untersucht am Beispiel der Dresdner Äußeren Neustadt." Doctoral thesis, Saechsische Landesbibliothek- Staats- und Universitaetsbibliothek Dresden, 2016.

Redfern, Paul. "There goes the neighbourhood : gentrification and marginality in modern life." Thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London), 1992.

Yardimci, Oznur. "Promises and costs of gentrification : the case of Dikmen Valley." Thesis, Lancaster University, 2018.

Berg, Max, and Sebastian Malmborg. "The development of the neighborhood Mollevången - A survey about gentrification." Thesis, Malmö högskola, Fakulteten för kultur och samhälle (KS), 2012.

Garcia, Alicia R. "The Impact of Gentrification on the Youth of Church Hill." VCU Scholars Compass, 2016.

Petty, Clint C. "Gentrification in Oklahoma City: Examining Urban Revitalization in Middle America." Thesis, University of North Texas, 2011.

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Gentrification Argumentative Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Business , Sociology , Neighborhood , Taxes , Gentrification , City , Life , Community

Words: 1000

Published: 03/09/2020


Gentrification is a complicated phenomenon that has become a hot topic during the previous several decades since the baby boom due to its controversial impact on society, politics, economy and culture. There are many definitions of gentrification due to the notion’s complexity, but in its essence, it is a process of change of the urban inner city community, during which the low-income population is gradually substituted by the middle class one, with this change being followed by the increase in property prices, renovation, inflow of investment and general improvement of the neighborhood’s well-being. Gentrification is caused by a number of factors, such as the primary deterioration of “the densely populated area with low costs of living”, inhabitation by the young and ambitious low-income and often artistic people followed by the improvement of the area’s general appeal with subsequent migration of the middle-class people attracted by the new developments (Bamidele). Scholars have suggested numerous theories explaining the origins of the phenomenon, however, the most important is its influence on life of the society it penetrates, i.e., the life of the previous and new settlers of the neighborhood, and the effects vary depending on the subject of influence. The unpopular area whether industrialized or not has usually low cost of living, low rent prices and, thus, attracts people, who can afford it. The buildings and sites in such neighborhoods usually lack renovation and investment. Such urban areas in the inner city have usually large populations and many problems, including, quite high crime rates. Young and ambitions workers in need of job that will support their living move to such areas. Many of them are artistic people, who strive to make their community more attractive. They start revitalizing the area, and as the neighborhood grows, the first middle-class newcomers settle in. According to Ebenezer, “higher-income helps fix up dilapidated houses, and because businesses follow consumers who have purchasing power. And as businesses invest in depressed areas, the residential and commercial property values increase” (Aka 2). The positive impact from such changes is the improvement of the area, the renovation of its buildings, and the rise in social activity. Another effect that can be regarded both as a positive and as a negative one is the increase in taxes on property due to the raise of income of the inhabitants. These taxes can be directed on the improvement of education facilities in the area, support police service, thus, decreasing the crime rate, improve sanitation, the state of buildings and roads (Aka 2). The investments attracted by such changes can give birth to new businesses and create new jobs. Gentrification creates a number of conflicts, social, racial and cultural, and they can have a positive impact too, as they attract attention of politicians and new middle-class population to the important issues, such as poverty, inequality, racial and social prejudices. As the tension rises, the policy-makers and pro-active groups can take actions to improve the general awareness of these issues that are very widespread in the country, and work together to find solution for them. Overall, such changes make the living for the population better, which can influence the neighboring areas, as well. On the other hand, there are clearly many negative consequences of gentrification, which attract many activists that try to fight with the process. The first and one of the main reasons to oppose it is the impossibility of the old residents to stay in the neighborhood. These people often rent, rather than own apartments, and the rise in prices of rent forces them to leave their places and relocate to the neighborhoods with the cheaper rent prices. Moreover, the rise in the property value rises the cost of living in the area, as the business owners have to increase prices and shift to the more expensive and even premium products that will be more demanded by the new population. The old residents very often cannot afford such living. At the same time, some houses are being bought, and the new owners get the tenants evicted from the apartments. Many of the old residents can become homeless as a result of this process. Homelessness and the rising social tension often create conflicts, which, at first, can give rise to the crime rates. As the old residents leave the area, many businesses that served as attracting features of the neighborhood, get closed or changed in a manner that they are no longer an attraction. The area can lose its prominent cultural life, which can make it less attractive. At the same time, the neighboring area, feeling the pressure of the relocating families or individuals, can increase the supply of housing, which can, in turn, result in future gentrification. The process of gentrification proved to be an inevitable part of the improvement of the social welfare. As an increasing number of businesses tend to place the headquarters in the central urban areas, the white-collar workers prefer to relocate to the areas in the close proximity to the work place, and they can afford it. Meanwhile, in order to stay in the area, the old residents feel the pressure of necessity to get the increase in the income; otherwise they might face the necessity to move to a cheaper area. The process of gentrification, thus, can improve the quality of living of an individual and social group, and it is the task of the law-makers, residents and business-owners to soften the negative consequences of the gentrification, while making the best out of its advantages.

Works Cited

Aka Jr., Ebenezer O.. "Gentrification and Socioeconomic Impacts of Neighborhood Integration and Diversification in Atlanta, Georgia." National Social Science Journal 35.1 (2010): 1-13. National Social Science Association. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. Bamidele, Jeremy. "Explaining Gentrification." The Huffington Post., 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. <>.


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