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Causes of Concentrated Urban Poverty

To get me started on this paper, can you provide me with an article dealing with urban poverty in Canada and United States? Thank you.

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I have located an excellent article dealing with urban poverty, "The Nature of Concentrated Urban Poverty in Canada and the United States" by Zoltan L. Hajnal (see attachment, which is also presented below). In addition, this article lists over 60 sources that you can draw on for your paper.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck with your assignment.

RESPONSE:

1. What causes concentrated urban poverty? In your discussion, discuss the debate over the role of racial discrimination in the development of concentrated urban poverty.

The following article should provide an excellent starting point as it is very detailed, and also provides other sources to consider in the bibliography.

ARTICLE:

The Nature of Concentrated Urban Poverty in Canada and the United States
Zoltan L. Hajnal
Abstract

A detailed examination of concentrated urban poverty in Canada's cities in 1986 reveals that Canada has proportionally more people in concentrated urban poverty than the United States. Concentrated urban poverty in Canada means not only poverty, but also high levels of a host of social dislocations. In the second ha lf of this essay the causes of concentrated urban poverty are addressed. Using comparative data, I test the applicability of two theories, which cite either racial segregation or a specific structural history as the root of concentrated urban poverty. My analysis indicates that race and ethnicity greatly influence one's chances of living in concentrated urban poverty. However, it is clear that for the majority of Canada's concentrated urban poor who are white, a historical pattern of rapid immigration, manufacturing decline, and central city depopulation is at the heart of their impoverished status.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my three reviewers at the CJS for their extremely helpful comments and suggestions. Michael Dawson, Taeku Lee, Julie Alig, and William J. Wilson also offered valuable assistance and much needed encouragement. Address correspondence to Zoltan Hajnal, Department of Political Science, Pick Hall, University of Chicago, 5828 S. University Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 (e-mail:zoli@cicero.spc.uchicago.edu)

Introduction

Since 1970, concentrated urban poverty has grown dramatically in the United States, to the point where well over two million poor people in America live in severely impoverished neighborhoods. In almost all cases this dramatic growth in the concentration of poverty has been accompanied by disturbingly high levels of welfare dependency, educational deficiencies, labor force non- participation, and other social dislocations. This essay is an attempt to illustrate the size and consequences of this phenomenon in Canada and to understand the structural causes of concentrated urban poverty in cities across Canada and the United States.

Over the last decade, the phenomenon of concentrated urban poverty has received tremendous attention from American researchers. This attention has unfortunately revealed an ominous social problem that is growing across American cities (Wilson, 1987 ; Coulton et al., 1990; Nelson, 1991). Research has shown that the number of poor people living in concentrated urban poverty in the United States grew by 29.5 percent between 1970 and 1980 (Jargowsky and Bane, 1991). In 1980 the US Census indicated that there were over 1,800,000 poor persons living in concentrated urban poverty in America's 100 largest central cities.[1]The number of concentrated urban poor was expected to continue its escalation in the 1980s (Nelson, 1991).Research has also demonstrated that this concentrated urban poverty population is divided along specific racial and regional lines, with Blacks in the core of older, industrial centres of the Northeast and Midwest facing the worst conditions (Jargowsky and Bane, 1991). This expansion of concentrated urban poverty is disturbing because it implies not only extreme levels of poverty, but also extreme levels of a variety of social disorders that may ultimately lead to social isolation and the perpetuation of poverty.[2]

In contrast to the intense American debate stands a Canadian poverty literature that is almost completely devoid of any mention of concentrated urban poverty. The magnitude of concentrated urban poverty in Canadian cities has not been explored and remains virtually unknown.[3] Although there are important differences between the two countries, especially with regard to racial histories, there are also important similarities which suggest that Canadian cities should be suffering from the same extreme levels of concentrated poverty that exist in the US.

The first goal of this project is to provide a thorough examination of concentrated urban poverty in Canada's twenty-five consolidated metropolitan areas. In so doing, I want to bring attention to a previously ignored but obviously very serious social issue in Canada. Through my research I will show that concentrated urban poverty, which I define as any area where greater than forty percent of the residents have an income below the poverty line, exists in Canada. I will also show that it is extensive, and that it is associated with a number of mutually damaging conditions, such as welfare dependency, educational deficiencies, and labor force non-participation. Finally, I will demonstrate that the over 600,000 people living in concentrated urban poverty in Canada's Consolidated Metropolitan Areas (CMA) in 1986 were distributed along distinct spatial, racial, and ethnic lines, with older industrial cities like Montreal and ethnic groups such as Aboriginal groups and Blacks suffering disproportionately.

The second goal of the project is to use knowledge of Canadian concentrated urban poverty to help answer the question, "What causes concentrated urban poverty?" More specifically, through an examination of the histories of specific Canadian and American cities, I will assess the relative merits of two theories that explain the rise and growth of concentrated urban poverty in the United States. These theories stress the importance of either racial segregation (Massey, 1990) or specific structural patterns (Wilson, 1987). In addition, this comparative analysis should provide a greater understanding of the role of various governmental structures and social policies in hindering or aiding the development of concentrated urban poverty.

While the empirical analyses and conclusions in this paper are tentative, my examination of the Canadian data does lead to several important findings. First, the role of race in the development of concentrated urban poverty is decidedly mixed. Race and ethnicity are important in that they greatly influence one's chances of living in concentrated urban poverty in Canada. However, it is clear that for the majority of Canada's concentrated urban poor who are white, race or ethnicity is not a factor. Second, the spatial distribution of concentrated urban poverty across Canadian cities suggests a close linkage to aggregate poverty rates. Finally, Canadian data do lend support to a more structuralist view of concentrated urban poverty. The distribution of concentrated urban poverty in Canada conforms, if imperfectly, to the structural framework developed by William Julius Wilson (1987).

The American Underclass[4]

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s poverty became more urban, more concentrated, and more deeply rooted in big cities, particularly in older industrial centers of the Northeast and Midwest (Wacquant and Wilson, 1989). These trends were especially acute for Blacks and Hispanics, which prompted researchers to posit the existence of a new underclass of poor and isolated urban minorities (Auletta, 1982). The transformation is most clearly illustrated in cities like New York and Chicago, where the number of people living in concentrated poverty roughly tripled between 1970 and 1980. Although national totals are not yet available for 1990, preliminary studies indicate that concentrated urban poverty continued to expand during the 1980s (Nelson, 1991). The racial bias of this phenomenon is also abundantly clear. The concentrated urban poor living in American metropolitan areas in 1980 were 67 percent Black, 20 percent Hispanic, and only 12 percent White.

Several authors have attempted to provide a theoretical outline of the social and economic processes that have caused the emergence and growth of concentrated urban poverty. The most commonly cited answer to the question, "What causes concentrated urban poverty?" has been advanced by William Julius Wilson in The Truly Disadvantaged. Wilson argues that the emergence and growth of the underclass stems from a complex web of structural and cultural developments. His theory has the following framework: (1) As minorities, primarily Blacks, migrated to cities in the Northeast and Midwest, they faced ongoing discrimination, which led to severe residential segregation. (2) Racial discrimination also confined urban minorities to certain sectors of the labor market, including the manufacturing industry.[5](3) In the 1970s and 1980s there was a sharp decline in manufacturing employment in central cities of the Northeast and Midwest.[6] This decline disproportionately affected minorities as employment shifted either to other regions or to the suburbs where minorities were seldom located. The few service jobs that were created in central cities either could not sustain a family above poverty or required skills that most urban minorities did not possess. (4) Both the skills mismatch and the spatial mismatch that arose for inner city workers led directly to a rise in minority joblessness.[7] (5) Male joblessness contributed to falling marriage rates and expanding rates of lone family headship. (6) In turn, increased lone headship has meant an escalation in welfare dependency and other social dislocations, and ultimately an increase in the concentration of poor people. (7) Already inflated poverty rates were exasperated by the outmigration of both white and minority non-poor which served first to eliminate mainstream role models, and second to deplete social networks that tied inner cities to available job opportunities.

This theoretical framework has stimulated a tremendous research effort in the United States. The most important outcome of this effort has been repeated empirical confirmation of Wilson's main argument -- that poverty concentration has increased in US cities with pernicious consequences for minorities (Bane and Jargowsky, 1991; Nelson, 1991; Massey and Eggers, 1990; Coulton, 1990; Rickets and Sawhill, 1986).[8] However, considerable controversy remains over the role of racial discrimination and Wilson's assertion that the exodus of non-poor minority residents has greatly contributed to the rise of concentrated urban poverty. The second theoretical framework that has been developed to try to provide a fuller understanding of concentrated urban poverty has been advanced by Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton (1993). These authors contend that racism, rather than a specific structural history, is the more important factor behind the emergence of concentrated urban poverty. Massey and Denton maintain that racial discrimination has been the primary force behind the isolation of minorities in undesirable inner city neighborhoods. Accordingly, racial discrimination has also prevented minorities from obtaining the jobs and education necessary to sustain a family over the poverty line. When high levels of racial segregation are then coupled with high aggregate poverty rates, the direct result is concentrated urban poverty.[9]

Concentrated Urban Poverty in Canada

In contrast to the intense American debate stands a Canadian poverty literature that is almost completely devoid of any mention of the underclass or of concentrated urban poverty. The status of concentrated urban poverty in Canadian cities has never been fully explored. Numerous scholars have examined urban poverty and social dislocation (Ross and Shillington, 1989; Ram et al., 1989; Auer and McMullen, 1979; Ray, 1976; McLemore et al., 1975) and numerous others have examined the extent of discrimination in housing, employment and social relations (Li, 1990; Henry and Ginzberg, 1985; Quan, 1979) but few have focused on the issue of the density of poverty. The researchers that do specifically address the issue of the underclass in Canadian cities largely argue that Canada does not have a substantive equivalent to the American underclass (Broadway, 1989; Goldberg and Mercer, 1986).[10] However, none of these studies has examined conditions at the neighborhood or census tract level.[11]

I argue and I intend to demonstrate with empirical evidence that this dearth of research is an important oversight, that concentrated urban poverty does exist in Canada, and, finally, that Canada does provide a valid empirical test of American theories on concentrated urban poverty. I think the evidence will show that there are more important similarities between the two countries than there are important differences. Similarities in the history of urbanization, in absolute poverty levels, and in government programs all suggest that Canada should be experiencing concentrated urban poverty. Moreover, the same structures that are purported by Wilson (1991, 1987) and others (Coulton et al., 1990) to lie behind the development of concentrated urban poverty in the United States are present in Canada. While the extent of the evidence demonstrating the existence of each of these structural developments varies across cities, I will show that Wilson's specific structural history occurred in certain Canadian cities and, ultimately, that it is associated with extensive concentrated urban poverty. The parallel structures in Canada and the United States are these: (1) Rapid urbanization and industrialization shaped cities. (2) An influx of immigrants, who were attracted by industries such as manufacturing and who settled in the city core near industry centers. (3) Manufacturing employment in the core of large, industrial cities declined as factories closed or moved to suburbs and other region s. In turn, the service jobs that replaced manufacturing jobs were accompanied by wages that were too low to maintain families above the poverty line. (4) Selective migration to the suburbs led to significant population losses and increased class segregation. (5) Governmental programs such as housing policies, highway funding, and urban renewal on the national and local levels served to exacerbate this increasing segregation. (6) A social welfare program that had only marginally reduced high rates of national poverty was unable to bring inner city residents out of poverty either through training or transfer payments. (7) Throughout this history racial and ethnic discrimination served to reinforce social segregation and concentrated urban poverty.

Race in Canada and Its Impact on Concentrated Urban Poverty

Because the role of race has been the focus of much of the debate on concentrated urban poverty in America, I give it special attention here. Although the evidence concerning the existence of racial and ethnic discrimination or racial and ethnic differences in income and quality of life is neither as strong nor as consistent as it is in the US, there is little doubt that discrimination does occur in Canada.[12] There is also little doubt that race and ethnicity play a role in poverty and specifically in concentrated urban poverty in Canada.

However, certain factors dictate that race and ethnicity cannot be the primary factor behind concentrated urban poverty in Canada. The most important of these is that Canada's visible minority[13] population is significantly smaller than that of the United States (3.7 vs 25 percent). In particular, Blacks and Hispanics, the two minorities that make up 21 percent of the total population and 87 percent of the concentrated poor population in America comprise less than one percent of the Canadian population (Canadian Census, 1986; American Census, 1990; Bane and Jargowsky, 1991). This extremely limited size means that, even if totally segregated, Blacks and Hispanics in Canada could not account for expansive ghettos similar to ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains in detail the causes of concentrated urban poverty in Canada and the United States, including the debate over the role of racial discrimination in the development of concentrated urban poverty. One article (23 pages) provided. Bibliography lists 63 sources.

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