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Concentration or diffusion? Exploring the emerging spatial dynamics of poverty distribution in Southern California


While urban poverty has been known to be spatially concentrated in inner-city areas for a long time, the degree of poverty concentration has declined substantially since the 1990s, whereas poverty has increasingly expanded to suburban areas to which relatively little attention has been paid. This study examines how poverty distribution has changed in the Los Angeles-Long Beach Combined Statistical Area and why. More specifically, an investigation is made to capture the detailed changes of poverty rates in over three thousand census tracts over the last two decades and to identify driving forces behind these spatiotemporal changes by employing spatial regression models. Results show that high poverty areas have stretched over space, not in a way that expands their overall size but in a way that increases the degree of spatial fragmentation throughout the last two decades. The results also reveal that neighborhood poverty change is largely shaped by wealth clustering and other spatially-explicit processes.

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