New model predicts U.S. neighborhoods likely to gentrify, prescribes effective anti-displacement policies

January 28, 2019 by Meme Moore, University of Colorado Denver
A sociological model of gentrification. Credit: Journal of Urban Affairs

A new research model allows urban planners, policymakers and community leaders to better focus resources to limit gentrification in vulnerable neighborhoods throughout the U.S.

By examining the "people, place and policy" factors that determine whether a neighborhood will gentrify or not, the model offers a better understanding of what fosters and what limits it. This process reveals the roles that government and policy can proactively play in limiting its most damaging impacts.

"This model is a new way of thinking about what influences gentrification and how to prevent it," said study co-author Jeremy Németh, Ph.D., associate professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado Denver. "This study debunks the argument that gentrification is an uncontrollable consequence of market forces, and outlines specific strategies where communities have real power to limit it."

Public agencies, nonprofits and city governments with can use publicly available data to model gentrification likelihood, establish early warning systems and then develop prevention strategies for their communities.

The study, "Toward a socio-ecological model of gentrification: How people, place, and policy shape neighborhood change," is published in the Journal of Urban Affairs.

"We're offering the model as a tool for city governments and anti-gentrification actors to be more proactive in targeting proven interventions in the most vulnerable ," said Németh, who co-authored the paper with Alessandro Rigolon, assistant professor of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Predicting gentrification

The researchers tested the predictive gentrification model in the five most populous U.S. regions: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Three "place" factors—access to jobs, proximity to transit stations and the quality of housing stock—emerged as strong predictors of a neighborhood's likelihood to gentrify across all regions. As they heavily influence these place factors, this points to the critical role play in shaping gentrification forces.

The diversity of a neighborhood is the "people" factor with the strongest predictive value, the study found.

"We know from years of research on implicit bias that if a neighborhood has a very high share of Black or Latinx residents, it is much less likely to gentrify than one with a mix of several racial or ," said Németh. He and Rigolon said they weren't surprised by the finding that racial/ethnic diversity is a strong predictor of gentrification.

Proven policy interventions

Although these factors weren't tested in this national-level study, several recent studies in California have shown that local "policy" strategies proven to slow gentrification include rent controls, community land trusts, and anti-eviction ordinances.

This first-of-its-kind study offers communities a to identify the neighborhoods most vulnerable to gentrification and a roadmap to implement proven anti-gentrification strategies before it's too late.

For this research, gentrification is defined as the influx of middle- and upper-class residents in a spatially concentrated fashion, which often results in the of long-time residents, who disproportionately are poorly educated, lower-income people of color.

Explore further: Examining the link between neighborhoods and schools

More information: Alessandro Rigolon et al. Toward a socioecological model of gentrification: How people, place, and policy shape neighborhood change, Journal of Urban Affairs (2019). DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2018.1562846

Related Stories

Examining the link between neighborhoods and schools

January 22, 2019

You've probably heard the term gentrification thrown around many times to describe how neighborhoods are transforming in cities like Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland. You probably think of ...

Gentrification draws more whites to minority neighborhoods

May 1, 2018

Residents and anti-gentrification activists tend to fear gentrification will lead to displacement by white residents while some experts believe it's an optimistic sign of an economic boom that would enable people to rise ...

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.