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"Not the Only Explanations,"

by Herbert J. Gans September/October 2013 issue of Poverty & Race

Pat Sharkey has come up with some original findings, but neighborhood effects and concentrated poverty are not the only explanations. For example, if poor blacks are kept poor and segregated, and urban renewal or public housing destruction further reduces the supply of housing they can afford, they are likely to stay in the same neighborhood for a generation, or longer. If they had more money, they would move to better neighborhoods just like anyone else.

Incidentally, if we studied the affluent, we might discover that they too stay in the same neighborhoods for generations. The supply of 16-room apartments and 10,000 square-foot mansions is as limited as the supply of affordable housing available to poor blacks.

Herbert J. Gans is Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology Emeritus at Columbia University and a past president of the American Sociological Association. He is the author of over a dozen books, including War Against the Poor (Basic Books, 1995).

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