Tract‐level data from the 1970, 1980, and 1990 censuses of population are used to identify poverty neighborhoods, extreme poverty neighborhoods, distressed neighborhoods, and severely distressed neighborhoods within the nation's 100 largest central cities. Changes in demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of these neighborhoods are documented, including racial/ethnic composition; poverty ... [Show full abstract] population concentration; school dropout rates; and rates of joblessness, single‐parent households, and welfare receipt.
Results show that despite some encouraging individual city turnarounds in the Northeast (especially in New York, Newark, and Philadelphia), urban poverty concentration and neighborhood distress worsened nationwide between 1980 and 1990. The greatest deterioration occurred in midwestern cities, particularly in Detroit. Southern cities, whose neighborhoods and cities typically improved during the 1970s, slipped during the 1980s; conditions in western cities also deteriorated. Blacks fared worse than whites and Hispanics during the 1980s in terms of increased concentration of poor in poverty tracts and distressed urban neighborhoods.