Quantitative Research Results

We look at neighborhood changes from 2000 to 2015. Our analysis proceeds in the following way: First, we use census data to identify neighborhoods that are vulnerable to gentrification. (Recall that gentrification is a phenomenon that occurs only in neighborhoods that are disadvantaged and have experienced previous levels of disinvestment.)  We then look at the changes in those neighborhoods, changes in the housing stock and market, and changes in demographics that are consistent with gentrification.

Previous researchers have used many ways to measure gentrification. Sometimes, the measures chosen by researchers are controversial and become, themselves, the subject of debate. In our study we decided to use three widely recognized measures of gentrification, methods used by prominent researchers in other metropolitan settings. These methods differ from each other and represent three different ways to look at gentrification. We looked for neighborhoods where at least two of the three approaches agreed that gentrification was taking place. This, we feel, is a conservative approach to identifying gentrification.

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Problems of measurement

  1. What is measured  Not all aspects of gentrification are easily measured or widely available to researchers.  For example, displacement is for many reasons very difficult to measure.  Thus, even though it is central to the dynamic of gentrification we cannot measure its prevalence.  Instead, we rely on other indicators of neighborhood change that are consistent with gentrification and displacement.
  2. When it is measured The quantitative data we examine typically incorporates a 2-3 year lag. The data we have access to in 2017 was collected, typically, in 2014 or 2015. Thus, what the numbers can tell us does not always match what observers see in real time in the neighborhoods we study.
  3. At what scale it is measured  We, like most researchers, use data at the census tract level.  There are two limitations to this: Census tracts are only approximations of actual neighborhoods, and gentrification can sometimes take place at a more limited scale that is not well-captured by data collected at a larger scale.