Socioeconomic Status and Inequality

Socioeconomic status and inequality play a huge role in gentrification. Gentrification can be defined in terms of economics, in which wealthier residents move into a neighborhood, increasing living expenses and economic activity. The original, poorer residents can longer afford to live in the neighborhood and are ultimately forced out. The original residents and the new residents compete over resources, such as property, in the neighborhood, with the new residents often getting their way due to their higher socioeconomic status. The original residents, who typically have lower income levels and less education, do not have access to the resources that the new residents do, so they cannot effectively prevent or protest against changes they disagree with in their neighborhood. An example of tensions that formed between new residents and original residents, was the gentrification of Boston’s South End from 1966 to 1973.

south endDuring this period, two main factions, the low-income community, which sought only to improve their living conditions and the more affluent newcomers who wished to protect their financial interests in the South End, held a contrary set of values and goals. Fearing an increase in subsidized low-cost units that would flood the neighborhood market, the newcomers wanted to prevent further low-income development and the encouragement through public policies of additional private market reinvestment(Auger 1979). The newcomers in the South End were better educated and had more income to resort to the changes they wished to make. They also had more support from the local government who wished to gentrify the neighborhood, due the economic gains that accompany the improvements. The original residents were at a disadvantage, and their inequalities were exploited. The issues surrounding changes in the South End exemplify the challenges of gentrification, because revitalization often becomes a struggle between enhancing the quality of the neighborhood for its poorer residents, or attempts to replace segments of their poorer populace with members of the immigrating middle class (Auger 1979). boston example

The article, “Gentrification, segregation, and discrimination in the American urban system” examines the link between segregation and discrimination in gentrified cities. Using a mortgage-lending database, the relation between class selectivity of gentrification and its effects on racial and ethnic discrimination are measured. The study found a correlation between a strong resurgence of capital investment in the urban core, along with magnified class segregation (Wyly and Hammel, 2004.) The study concluded that gentrification is a form of new segregation. Empirical analysis found a “significant link between gentrification and worsened processes of racial and ethnic discrimination,” Wyly and Hammel, 2004) proving a correlation between intensified discrimination and exclusion in gentrified neighborhoods.


The findings in both of these studies show that issues due differences in socioeconomic status and inequality are inherent in gentrification. When people of significantly different socioeconomic status live in a neighborhood, inequalities are exposed. These inequalities can be economic, social or political or they can manifest in the form of discrimination. Either way, the integrity of the community and its original residents are compromised in gentrification. The economic consideration’s of gentrification show why gentrification is negative for community and how its harms the original residents.


Owens, Ann. “Neighborhoods on the Rise: A Typology of Neighborhoods Experiencing Socioeconomic Ascent.” City and Community . no. 4 (2012): 345-369.

Auger , Deborah . “The Politics of Revitalization in Gentrifying Neighborhoods The Case of Boston’s South End.“ Journal of the American Planning Association. no. 4 (1979): 525-522.

 Freeman, Lance, and Braconi Frank . “Gentrification and Displacement New York City in the 1990s.”Journal of the American Planning Association. no. 1 (2004): 39-52.
Kolko, Jed. “Job Location, Neighborhood Change, and Gentrification.” Public Policy Institute of California. (2009): 1-30.
Wyly, Elvin, and Daniel Hammel. “Gentrification, segregation, and discrimination in the American urban system.” Environment and Planning . (2004): 1215-1241.

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