July 15, 2020
A recent “return to the city” by middle‐class professionals in England, with the increasing “suburbanisation” of poverty and an ongoing housing crisis, has increased the salience of concerns about neighbourhood gentrification via the involuntary displacement of established working class residents. This paper reports a systematic analysis of gentrification and income poverty in England that adopts innovative methodological approaches: a multivariate index of gentrification, propensity score matching to establish a comparison group, and sensitivity testing with respect to different “gentrification” definitions. The paper investigates three possible theoretical processes that could have driven the observed decline in income poverty rates in gentrifying areas: inward mobility to areas, outward mobility from areas, and in situ changes in poverty status. The post‐recession period 2010–2014 is studied using data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. There is good evidence from aggregate and individual‐level analyses for a relationship between “inward” mobility, poverty status, and area gentrification. In addition, people moving to gentrifying areas were more likely to have a university degree and more likely to be in the professional occupational class than people who moved to nongentrifying comparison areas. On the other hand, no such relationships are found for “outward” mobility. The strongest evidence is found for “exclusionary displacement” (the restricted ability of low‐income households to move in to an area) rather than “direct displacement” (increased outward mobility of existing residents) as the dominant driver of gentrification in this period.
Population, Space and Place