Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program/Concentration

Urban Services - Management

Committee Director

Berhanu Mengistu

Committee Member

Gail Johnson

Committee Member

Christopher Colburn

Committee Member

Bruce Rubin

Abstract

This study examined Wilson's hypothesis that economic restructuring accompanied by spatial redistribution of employment opportunities coupled with rising skills requirements for employment provide an explanation for the increasing concentration of metropolitan area poverty in its central city. This study also assesses the influence that racism, represented by racial residential segregation (Index of Dissimilarity), may have on the distribution of metropolitan poverty (Massey 1990, 1994; Massey, Gross and Shibuya, 1994; Feagin, 1999, Orfield, 1992). Additionally, this study will expand Wilson's hypothesis by examining the influence that these variables (economic infrastructure, skills mismatch, and racial residential segregation) have on central city income inequality and median household income, a relationship suggested by several authors (Blank and Card, 1993; Cloutier, 1997; Caputo, 1995).

This study fails to find that the proportion of metropolitan area poverty has increased in its central city contrary to Wilson's (1987) argument that the consequence of economic restructuring and the suburbanization of employment opportunities coupled with rising skills requirements for employment have been the concentration of metropolitan area poverty in their central city. Analysis of the 1970 and 1990 distribution of metropolitan area poverty revealed that the proportion of metropolitan area poverty residing in its central city has remain virtually unchanged over the last 20 years despite significant changes occurring in the distribution of economic infrastructure, skilled labor force, and in the Index of Dissimilarity. Analysis concludes that variation in the distribution of metropolitan area poverty is strongly influenced by variations in the distribution of variables that Wilson suggests provide an explanation for the increasing concentration of metropolitan area poverty in its central city. It also finds evidence, contrary to Wilson's argument, that racism manifested as racial residential segregation and measured as the Index of Dissimilarity between the metropolitan area and its central city, does significantly influence the distribution of poverty between the metropolitan area and its central city. Additionally, changes in metropolitan distribution of these variables coupled with change in the Index of Dissimilarity between the metropolitan area and its central city does significantly explain changes in the proportional distribution of metropolitan area poverty.

This study did not find evidence to support the suggestion (Blank and Card, 1993; Cloutier, 1997; Caputo, 1995) that these same variables influenced central city income inequality. It did find evidence that a limited relationship may exist between these variables and central city median household income.

DOI

10.25777/bx22-v423

ISBN

9780493177816

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