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Are poor neighborhoods “retail deserts”?

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Author Info

  • Schuetz, Jenny
  • Kolko, Jed
  • Meltzer, Rachel

Abstract

Poor urban neighborhoods are often referred to as “food deserts”, lacking in grocery stores and healthy food vendors. However, most empirical studies of food deserts have been small scale, focusing on limited geographies and a narrow range of products. Standard retail location models, which often assume that consumers have identical preferences and are uniformly distributed through space, provide little insight into the relationship between local income and retail patterns. In this paper, we examine the relationship between neighborhood income and retail density for several types of goods and services in 58 large U.S metropolitan areas. We combine detailed data from the National Establishment Time-Series database on retail establishments and employment, by industry category and firm type, with Census data on ZCTA income, poverty and demographics. Results indicate that retail patterns do vary by neighborhood income, along many dimensions. High poverty neighborhoods have lower employment density for retail overall, supermarkets, drugstores, food service and laundry facilities, driven largely by reduced employment in chain establishments. Average establishment size increases with median income for all retail types. Neither income levels nor poverty rates consistently predict retail employment growth, but neighborhoods that experience income upgrading do see larger gains in retail employment.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 42 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1-2 ()
Pages: 269-285

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Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:42:y:2012:i:1:p:269-285

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/regec

Related research

Keywords: Retail location; Food deserts; Commercial land use; Chain stores; Neighborhood amenities;

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References

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Food Deserts as Market Failure
    by Jonas Feit in Conscience Warrior on 2013-11-18 17:50:00
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Cited by:
  1. Murphy, Daniel, 2012. "Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Welfare Consequences of Asymmetric Growth," Working Papers, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan 629, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.

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