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Neighborhood income inequality

  • Christopher H. Wheeler
  • Elizabeth A. La Jeunesse

This paper offers a descriptive empirical analysis of the geographic pattern of income inequality within a sample of 359 US metropolitan areas between 1980 and 2000. Specifically, we decompose the variance of metropolitan area-level household income into two parts: one associated with the degree of variation among household incomes within neighborhoods - defined by block groups and tracts - and the other associated with the extent of variation among households in different neighborhoods. Consistent with previous work, the results reveal that the vast majority of a city’s overall income inequality - at least three quarters - is driven by within-neighborhood variation rather than between-neighborhood variation, although we find that the latter rose significantly during the 1980s, especially between block groups. We then identify a number of metropolitan area-level characteristics that are associated with both levels of and changes in the degree of each type of residential income inequality.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2006-039.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2006-039
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  1. Dennis Epple & Holger Sieg, 1999. "Estimating Equilibrium Models of Local Jurisdictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 645-681, August.
  2. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed The Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213, November.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Anne C. Case & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
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  12. Glaeser, Edward L., 1999. "Learning in Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 254-277, September.
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  14. Topa, Giorgio, 2001. "Social Interactions, Local Spillovers and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 261-95, April.
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  16. Julie Berry Cullen & Steven D. Levitt, 1996. "Crime, Urban Flight, and the Consequences for Cities," NBER Working Papers 5737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Margo, Robert A., 1992. "Explaining the postwar suburbanization of population in the United States: The role of income," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 301-310, May.
  18. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, June.
  19. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Institutional Changes and Rising Wage Inequality: Is There a Linkage?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 75-96, Spring.
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