More Poor Live in Suburbs than Cities

UNITED STATES

More Poor Live in Suburbs than Cities
Bucking longstanding patterns in the United States, more poor people now live in the nation’s suburbs than in urban areas, according to a new analysis.

Suburbs still have a smaller percentage of their population living in poverty than cities do, but the sheer number of poor people scattered in the suburbs has jumped beyond that of cities. Photograph by David Arnold, National Geographic Society

“Suburbs still have a smaller percentage of their population living in poverty than cities do, but the sheer number of poor people scattered in the suburbs has jumped beyond that of cities,” according to a new study by the Brookings Institution.
Photograph by David Arnold, National Geographic Society

Discussion Ideas:

  • The Los Angeles Times article describes a study that shows more people living in poverty in the nation’s suburbs than its urban areas. Read the short section on the “Growth of Suburbs” in our encyclopedic entry on urban areas. Can students name some ways a suburb is different from a city?
    • Suburbs are less densely populated than urban areas.
    • Suburbs often have more single-family homes and fewer mixed-use areas than urban areas.
    • Suburban residents often rely more on personal vehicles and less on public transportation.
  • The Times article outlines two reasons why poverty is growing in suburban America: More suburban residents are falling into poverty, and more poor people are moving to the suburbs. Can students name some  factors that contribute to these circumstances?
    • Suburban Residents Fall Into Poverty (paragraph: “Change also came from within.”)
      • Factories have closed and manufacturing jobs, such as those in the automobile or computer industry, have disappeared.
      • The financial crisis, led by the collapse of the housing market in 2007, left many suburban residents heavily in debt.
      • Suburban sprawl, outlined in our encyclopedic entry, meant that more people were living in suburbs than ever before—this includes more poor people.
    • Poor People Move to the Suburbs (paragraph: “More poor people moved to the suburbs”)
      • Homes in the suburbs became much more affordable in the early 2000s.
      • Urban gentrification forced many poor residents out of cities. Gentrification is a controversial process in which a poor urban neighborhood is “revitalized” to welcome wealthier residents. This demographic shift increases rents in the area and often results in poorer residents moving out . . . to the suburbs.
      • Urban families often migrate in search of better-ranked schools and other opportunities for their children.
      • As suburbs grow, so do jobs in the area. Most of these jobs are low-paying jobs in the service sector. The service sector includes education, finance, and health-care. However, most low-paying service sector jobs are in the retail industry.
  • The report on suburban and urban poverty defined “poverty” using the federal poverty guidelines of 2011. Look at the federal poverty guidelines for 2013. How have they changed from the data used in the report?
    • The federal poverty guidelines have increased slightly. In 2011, the poverty line for a family of four was $23,350. In 2013, the poverty line for a family of four is $23,550.
  • The Los Angeles Times article reports that suburban social services are unprepared for the rapid increase in poor residents. Can students name some services that suburban communities may need to expand in order to meet the needs of poor residents?
    • public transportation
    • housing assistance or rent control
    • food banks
    • after-school programs
    • unemployment and job-assistance programs
    • immunization and other health-care clinics

One response to “More Poor Live in Suburbs than Cities

  1. Pingback: U.S. suburbs have more poor than the cities do, study finds - Syndicated News Services·

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