In the commotion of moving and starting my new job, I neglected to post about two articles that came out last month that I worked on for quite a while. The first, Reassessing Residential Preferences for Redevelopment, was published in City & Community last month in a special issue on gentrification. My paper argues that much of our public policy and debate regarding changing residential preferences for gentrification occurs without actually measuring preferences in the population. Using the 2004-5 Chicago Area Study, I do just that to show that preferences break down along groups defined by home ownership. Home owners in the city of Chicago, regardless of race, are much more likely than their suburban counterparts to consider a redeveloped neighborhood. Meanwhile, race tends to unify preferences among renters in that blacks -- regardless of whether they live in Chicago or suburban Cook County -- would consider redeveloped neighborhood much more than their white renting counterparts, with Latino renters in between. I also find that traditional reasons middle-class people prefer redeveloped neighborhoods touted by gentrification and creative class proponents only really apply among whites while black home owners prefer access to city services and Latinos prioritize access to employment.
To the extent that cities hold developers accountable to mixed-income plans, these results suggest that redevelopment might help integrate communities economically and racially. Of course, this means actually holding developers accountable, which is sometimes difficult to do. Overall, the debate regarding who would prefer to live in redeveloped neighborhoods needs to be more nuanced and not based on where people do live.
I coauthored the second paper, Local Racial Residential Segregation and Low Birthweight in Michigan Cities, with Michelle Debbink that was published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health. We find that low birth weight births in Michigan are associated with racial residential segregation, even after controlling for economic segregation and other structural neighborhood factors that might explain differences. We find that economic segregation cannot account for the association between racial residential segregation and low birth weight (unadjusted and adjusted odds reported in the graph). In addition we are, to our knowledge, the first authors to report on the etiological link between low birth weight and neighborhood conditions and show that segregation creates low birth weight through intra-uterine growth restriction rather than preterm birth.