Poverty pockets in the suburbs: A new way to understand school inequality

Authors: Hui Jeong Ha*, The Ohio State University, City and Regional Planning, Elisabeth Root, The Ohio State University, Department of Geography, Bernadette Hanlon, The Ohio State University, City and Regional Planning
Topics: Urban Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Suburban, Spatial analysis, School inequality
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Harding, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Previous urban studies have emphasized the presence of poverty clusters in inner-city communities. Since suburban communities have traditionally been wealthier than inner cities, pockets of low-income households have been difficult to detect in these areas. Geospatial studies which examine the entire metro area often miss smaller pockets of low-income households in suburban areas because they are concealed by the large number of low-income household in the inner city. If pockets of low-income households exist in suburban areas, this has implications for elementary schools which need programming to assist children from low-income households. The goal of this study is to find locations of poverty pockets in the suburbs surrounding the city of Columbus, Ohio. We address the following research questions: 1) How can we detect poverty pockets in middle-income suburbs? 2) How do these suburban poverty pockets contribute to inequalities in primary schools? The InfoUSA consumer dataset was used to identify low-income households in Franklin County and spatial scan statistics were applied to find the location of poverty pockets. We explicitly consider the washout effect created by large poverty pockets in poor inner-city neighborhoods by creating sub-datasets for inner-ring suburbs. Results indicate localized poverty pockets in middle-income suburbs. Using Ohio School Report Card data, we show how these poverty pockets affect student demographics in primary schools. This study provides insights into the problem of suburban poverty and improves our understanding of how poverty pockets in inner-ring suburbs contribute to school inequalities.

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