Recent Urban Policy and Community Development Research


Urban Poverty Concentration

Race, Class, and Location in Urban Segregation

What factors uphold persistent racial segregation in U.S. metropolitan areas? Prior research has focused on race and class as explanations for segregation, with race-based explanations emphasizing prejudice and discrimination and class-based explanations emphasizing racial gaps in income and affluence. IPR sociologist Lincoln Quillian is looking at this issue in ways that go beyond this race-class dualism. Using PSID data for 1997–2009, Quillian employs a discrete-choice approach allowing him to evaluate a neighborhood’s race, class, and other attributes at the same time. Measures of family affluence or neighborhood class level account for practically none of the racial segregation in the neighborhoods to which people move. Rather, the distance of the new neighborhood from the old one is a much better gauge for predicting a person’s destination. Local moves contribute to black migration to black neighborhoods of destination because of black neighborhoods’ strong racial clustering. Race, class, and geographic location are somewhat redundant in producing segregated migration patterns: White neighborhoods tend to be affluent and close to other white neighborhoods, while black neighborhoods tend to be less affluent, inexpensive, and close to other black neighborhoods. To curtail segregation in an area, Quillian concludes, one must address these three factors simultaneously. 

Cross-National Urban Issues

Socioeconomic Segregation in the U.S. and France

While segregation exists in most modern societies, its causes and its manifestations often vary from country to country. In an IPR working paper, Quillian and his colleague, Hugues Lagrange of France’s Sciences Po, offer an in-depth comparison of socioeconomic segregation in France and the United States. Focusing on large metropolises—areas with populations greater than one million—Quillian and Lagrange mea- sure levels of segregation based on income, employment, and educational attainment. The researchers find that, overall, segregation on the basis of socioeconomic status is “substantially greater” in the United States. Furthermore, where segregation occurs within urban areas in these two countries varies: While American suburbs are disproportionately wealthier and have lower unemployment than urban areas, socioeconomic differences between French cities and their suburbs are “more even,” the researchers find—though this varies from one French metropolis to another. Quillian and Lagrange also compare the role of public housing in shaping American and French segregation. While public housing is concentrated in the poorest neighborhoods in the United States, in France, public housing is spread across neighborhoods of nearly all income levels, with the exception of the wealthiest 20 percent of neighborhoods. The much larger share of public housing in France, its availability to a wider range of incomes, and its presence across neighborhoods of many income levels is found as one important factor contributing to the much lower level of neighborhood income segregation in France than in the United States. 

Race and Income Segregation

Does Segregation Create Winners and Losers?

While many facets of life in America’s metropolises have dramatically changed over the last century—transportation, economic growth, the influx of young people to urban areas— residential segregation has largely remained constant. In 2000, levels of racial segregation were not far below their peak in 1960, and income-based segregation hit its peak around 2010. Drawing on census data and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), Quillian analyzes the impact of urban segregation on educational attainment in the journal Social Problems. Quillian finds that metropolitan areas segregated by income had lower high school graduation rates for lower-income students, while there was no effect on rates for students from higher-income backgrounds. In racially segregated metropolitan areas, black students graduated less, while there was no effect on graduation rates for their white counterparts. Quillian writes that for education, “Segregation increases the disadvantage of disadvantaged groups without increasing the advantage of advantaged groups.” While school reform is important to reduce gaps, his research concludes that neighborhood environments must also be addressed to affect more powerful—and sustainable—changes. 

Community Policing and Criminal Justice

Chicago Forum Focuses on Police, Public

IPR political scientist Wesley G. Skogan, an expert on crime and policing, organized the Chicago Forum on Procedural Justice and Legitimacy in Policing on March 21–22.The conference focused on the internal operations of police organizations and the relationships between the police and the public. Receiving funding from the Joyce Foundation, it featured researchers and police administrators from around the country and the world. International guests traveled from Argentina, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, accompanied by several trainers and Deputy Chief Keith Calloway, spoke briefly at the beginning of the workshop, linking the role of procedural justice within police departments to the public. When police feel respected and validated within the department, they, in turn, treat the public better. Because of that, “the internal legitimacy of the department is the single most important thing we do,” he said.

Skogan shared results from an experiment he conducted with a Chicago police training academy workshop on procedural justice that were published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology. It shows that officers held a more favorable view about procedural justice after the workshop, especially in getting citizens to participate, though the long-term effects were likely small.

The second day’s panels focused on using procedural justice to align the relationship between the police and the public. Tracey Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale University, presented her research showing that people’s perceptions of how well they were treated by an officer drive the assessment of the “rightfulness” of police actions, completely independent of whether the officer’s actions were lawful. 

Training Police for Procedural Justice

In the Journal of Experimental Criminology, Skogan reports the findings of his evaluation of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) Procedural Justice and Legitimacy initiative, as mentioned above, and provides some of the first systematic research on police training. The initiative, part of CPD’s relaunch of its community policing program, Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), is designed to teach officers how to treat residents fairly and with respect to earn their trust, demonstrate their importance in maintaining social order and managing conflicts, and ultimately improve officer safety and efficiency. He reviews the short- and longer-term effects of the training, measuring its impact on four principles of procedural justice: neutrality, or equal treatment for all at all times; voice, which entails giving citizens the opportunity to offer their side of the story; respect, or treating citizens with dignity regardless of their attitude; and trust, which means believing citizens will “do the right thing.” In the short term, Skogan finds, training increased officer support for all four of the procedural justice principles. Longer term, the officers who had attended the workshop continued to be supportive of three of the four procedural justice principles introduced in training; however, the effect of training on trust of citizens was not statistically significant. 

Chicago Community Policing Survey

How do Chicagoans view their encounters with police? That is the central question of the Neighborhood Crime and Justice Study, spearheaded by Skogan and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Launched in December 2014, the study aims to interview 2,100 Chicago residents on two occasions about their encounters with city police. Households located in 77 community areas—from areas with large concentrations of Asian immigrant populations to white residents concentrated in the “bungalow-belt” and the lakeshore area and well-off and poor African Americans—will be randomly selected for interviewing. Interviewers will gauge how effective residents find the police, their perceptions of crime in their neighborhood, and any experiences they might have with community-based responses to crime. The project is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 

President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing

President Barack Obama created the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in December 2014. The task force seeks to identify best practices in policing and eventually will make recommendations on “how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust and examine, among other issues, how to foster strong, collaborative relationships between local law enforcement and the communities they protect.” Skogan was one of several leading policing experts invited to present testimony at a listening session in Phoenix on community policing and crime prevention for its interim report. 

Civilians in Policing

Faced with paying higher salaries, training costs, and benefit packages, cash-strapped police departments are increasingly hiring civilians to cut costs. Previous research has noted that unlike police officers, civilians working in a police department—in jobs such as traffic aides, clerical workers, or stenographers— are often treated as “employees,” rather than “members” of the organization. In the journal Policing, Skogan and co-author Megan Alderden of Saint Xavier University examine workplace satisfaction of civilian employees of law enforcement agencies, and consider how police culture influences civilian perceptions of job quality. Using survey data from the National Police Research Platform, which contains a diverse sample of 100 U.S. law enforcement agencies, the researchers’ results reveal that stress within the workplace and acceptance among department co-workers were important predictors to job dissatisfaction among civilian employees. Skogan and Alderen then offer several ways police administrators can improve the workplace for civilian employees. Their recommendations include increasing training for civilian employees, expanding peer-support programs aimed at mitigating stress to civilian employees, and implementing procedural-justice initiatives—community-based programs that have improved relations between civilians and police officers—in the workplace. 

Imprisonment Rates and Political Participation

High numbers of convicted offenders in a neighborhood often lead to increased crime, poverty, and other social problems. In the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, political scientist and IPR associate Traci Burch finds that high numbers of offenders also depress political participation. Using election, demographic, and incarceration data from 5,000 North Carolina neighborhoods, Burch discovers that people who lived in neighborhoods with the highest density of offenders voted at a rate nearly 8 percentage points lower than those in neighborhoods with no offenders. These results raise another question: Why do some neighborhoods have such high imprisonment rates, while others do not? In another article in Law and Policy, Burch uses block-level data collected from state boards of elections, departments of corrections and of public health, and the U.S. Census Bureau, to conclude that high levels of racial residential segregation are clearly associated with high neighborhood imprisonment rates. According to her simulation, neighborhoods in counties with the highest segregation levels could expect imprisonment rates more than twice as high as neighborhoods in minimally segregated counties. Burch’s research reinforces the importance of understanding and ameliorating factors contributing to high imprisonment rates, improving quality of life in already disadvantaged communities.