Suburban Neighborhood Poverty in U.S. Metropolitan Areas in 2000


*Correspondence should be addressed to Rachel E. Dwyer, Department of Sociology, 238 Townshend Hall, 1885 Neil Avenue Mall, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210;


Suburban areas have become more diverse and stratified in the United States, with a particularly striking increase in poverty, challenging theories that conceptualize poverty predominantly as a central city phenomenon. Little scholarly work has examined suburban poverty, however, and the small existing literature focuses primarily on inner-ring suburbs in the Northeast and Midwest and relies too much on the concentric zone model of metropolitan development. We use Census 2000 summary data to examine the prevalence and form, characteristics, and determinants of suburban poverty at the neighborhood and metropolitan levels across the entire country. We draw on more sophisticated ecological and place stratification perspectives and argue that suburban poverty manifests in more varied forms than the typical model and diverges in crucial respects from central city poverty. Our results identify a particularly distinctive racial profile for suburban poverty, associated especially with Hispanic residential location, with implications for trends in racial segregation as well.