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Neighborhoods on the Rise: A Typology of Neighborhoods Experiencing Socioeconomic Ascent


Correspondence should be addressed to Ann Owens, Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, Stanford University, Building 370, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305;


Neighborhoods are an important source of inequality, and neighborhood change may lead to changing opportunities for residents. Past research on neighborhood upgrading tends to focus on one process: gentrification. I argue that a broader range of types of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent requires examination. This article documents the different types of neighborhoods ascending from 1970 to the present. Using principal components analysis and cluster analysis, I report the prevalence of socioeconomic ascent, based on increases in neighborhood income, rents, house values, and educational and occupational attainment, among five to seven types of neighborhoods in each decade. I also examine population and housing changes that co-occur with ascent to identify processes of ascent beyond gentrification. Overall, findings suggest mixed implications for neighborhood inequality. While white suburban neighborhoods make up the bulk of neighborhoods that ascend in each decade, minority and immigrant neighborhoods become increasingly likely to ascend over time, though displacement may occur.