NEWS 2013

Why Concentrated Poverty Matters

A new housing mobility assessment finds links between concentrated poverty and health

Thomas McDade

In 1987 sociologist William Julius Wilson published his influential book The Truly Disadvantaged, which argued that the growing geographic concentration of poor minority families in urban areas contributed to high rates of crime, out-of-wedlock births, female-headed families, and welfare dependency.

New research co-authored by IPR anthropologist Thomas McDade on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized mobility experiment raises questions about the effects of concentrated poverty on the earnings, welfare receipt, or schooling outcomes of low-income families. The results suggest that concentrated poverty does have extremely important impacts, but on outcomes not emphasized so much by Wilson—such as physical and mental health. Download the researchers' article, which was published in the Spring 2013 issue of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality's magazine Pathways, here.

Thomas McDade is Professor of Anthropology, Director of IPR's Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health, and an IPR fellow.