Does Gentrification Displace Poor Children? New Evidence from New York City Medicaid Data
Published: 2019 | Kacie Dragan, Ingrid Ellen, Sherry A. Glied | National Bureau of Economic Research
The pace of gentrification has accelerated in cities across the country since 2000, and many observers fear it is displacing low-income populations from their homes and communities. We offer new evidence about the consequences of gentrification on mobility, building and neighborhood conditions, using longitudinal New York City Medicaid records from January 2009 to December 2015 to track the movement of a cohort of low-income children over seven years, during a period of rapid gentrification in the city. We leverage building-level data to examine children in market rate housing separately from those in subsidized housing. We find no evidence that gentrification is associated with meaningful changes in mobility rates over the seven-year period. It is associated with slightly longer distance moves. As for changes in neighborhood conditions, we find that children who start out in a gentrifying area experience larger improvements in some aspects of their residential environment than their counterparts who start out in persistently low-socioeconomic status areas. This effect is driven by families who stay in neighborhoods as they gentrify; we observe few differences in the characteristics of destination neighborhoods among families who move, though we find modest evidence that children moving from gentrifying areas move to lower-quality buildings.