The research community
at the Institute includes
visiting scholars, consultants,
economists, research analysts,
and research assistants. These
scholars bring a diversity of
backgrounds, interests, and
expertise to research that
deepens our understanding
of economic opportunity
and inclusion as well as
policies that work to improve
By the time he turned 18, visiting scholar Marcus Casey
estimates, he had lived in eight different neighborhoods
in Illinois, Indiana, and Texas, as his family moved from one
place to another in their quest to balance the neighborhood
features they desired and the rent they paid.
“With all those changes, I became interested in how
different policy environments, different economic environments,
the different aspects of living in these different
places—how do they affect people’s
later outcomes?” Casey said.
A large literature in economics
shows that neighborhoods shape
employment and income, social networks and job referrals, the quality of
schools and access to health care. Because
neighborhoods matter, Casey
seeks to understand factors that lead
people to live where they do.
Take race. “Racial stratification remains a defining feature
of every major city in the United States,” Casey and his
co-authors write in a paper examining whether households
that receive a new neighbor of a different race just one or
two doors down are more likely to move than are residents
who are farther away on the same block.
Both White and Black households are more likely to move when a near neighbor of a different race moves in.
They find that both White and Black households are more
likely to move when a near neighbor of a different race moves
in. Interestingly, it is Black homeowners under 40 years old
and White homeowners over 60 years who react most. This
suggests that focusing on the quality of social interactions may
be important to maintaining stable, integrated neighborhoods.
Another factor that influences where people live: money.
In the 1990s and 2000s, gentrification of urban neighborhoods
priced out many residents, but they could often move
nearby, much like Casey’s family did. “Nowadays, however,
because we’ve restricted the supply of new housing so much,
people can’t just move to the next neighborhood necessarily,”
Casey said, because low supply plus high demand
translates to very high prices. In Washington, D.C., Casey
finds that gentrification has led the city’s lower-income
residents to be increasingly concentrated in the northeast
and southeast sections of the city—neighborhoods that are
declining on many social and economic measures—which
has consequences for its residents’ outcomes later in life.
And in what Chicago neighborhood does Casey live now?
In a city this segregated and unequal, there are too often
trade-offs between a neighborhood’s quality and its diversity.
“I don’t want to isolate my children, but at the same time,
I don’t want to subject them to places lacking amenities,”
Casey said. “It’s complicated.”
More scholar spotlights from this issue