Overview of Community Characteristics in Areas With Concentrated Poverty. The characteristics of communities with concentrated poverty vary across demographic and spatial dimensions.


Research associates several factors with higher concentrations of poverty: economic change from the production of goods to information processing; migration patterns of the non-poor; racial and economic segregation; discriminatory and segregating housing policies; increasing immigration; the rise in births to unwed mothers; and the decline in multigenerational economic mobility, especially for black individuals.V These factors suggest that trends in concentrated poverty vary across several demographic and spatial dimensions.

Service needs in these areas are, on average, much higher than in communities without concentrated poverty. Existing literature suggests there is less access to services for employment, basic needs, and personal well-being in predominately black and Hispanic Census tracts, compared to those that are not. In some cases, the level of service presence in predominately black and Hispanic Census tracts is half of that in predominately white tracts.VI These findings showing the differences in service availability persist even when controlling for These findings showing the differences in service availability persist even when controlling for poverty rates and are most pronounced in poor black neighborhoods.VII The possibility that services that are intended to change the economic trajectories of poor individuals and families
are not reaching the target population that is cause for concern. Future briefs in this series will explore health care and early childhood service capacity and saturation in these high poverty areas.

V The Federal Reserve System and The Brookings Institution. 2008

VI Allard, Scott. 2008. “Place, Race, and Access to the Safety Net”. In Lin, Ann Chih and Harris, David (Eds.) The Colors of Poverty. Pp.232-260. Russell Sage Foundation: New York.

VII Ibid.

View full report


"rb_concentratedpoverty.pdf" (pdf, 281.52Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®