Windows on Urban Poverty
Windows on Urban Poverty: Describing and Mapping Concentrated Poverty in the 2000 Census
The Windows on Urban Poverty project
has two main objectives:
- a research paper on the changes in the concentration of
poverty between 1990;
- an interactive web site to help interested persons learn
about the concentration of poverty in their city.
* The paper has been released as a Brookings Institution Policy
Brief, "Stunning Progress, Hidden Problems: the Dramatic Decline
of Concentrated Poverty in the 1990s. You can obtain the report by
* The web site allows you to create, print, and copy neighborhood
level maps of any neighborhood in the United States on several
demographic and economic variables. You may use the maps freely
for any non-commercial purpose, but please cite the source as the
Bruton Center, University of Texas at Dallas. (For commercial
use, permission is required. Please contact the project
director, Paul Jargowsky, by letter or email explaining the
nature of the intended use.)
Neighborhoods are approximated by "census tracts," which are
small, relatively homogeneous areas defined by the census bureau
and local public officials. On average, census tracts have about
4,000 persons. Neighborhood boundaries change over time,
especially in places where there is rapid population growth.
All of our maps use a constant set boundaries based on the 2000
census. For the 1970, 1980, and 1990 data interpolated to the
2000 Census Tract grid, we rely on the Neighborhood Change
Database (NCDB). This product is available from GeoLytics, Inc.
Unless otherwise noted, the variables below can be mapped at the
neighborhood level for 1970, 1980, 1990, or 2000. Changes in the
value of the variable can be mapped between any two of those
years. To change the variable or year, use the drop down menus
at the upper right of the map page, and then click "Change Map."
- Poverty. Based on the federal poverty line. For example,
in 2002, the poverty level was $15,260 for a family of three and
$18,400 for a family of four. Any person living in a family with
income below the poverty threshold is designated as poor. The
poverty rate for a neighborhood is determined by dividing the
number of poor persons by the total population of the area,
excluding some individuals who live in college dorms, nursing
homes, and other group quarters. Shades of red indicate high-
poverty neighborhoods, those with poverty rates of 40 percent or
more. Dark green is neighborhoods in which fewer than 1 in 5
persons are poor. The lighter green shades indicate "borderline"
neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty but less than 40
percent. For changes, red shades are used for increases in the
poverty rate, and green shades for decreases. The exact shade is
determined by the percentage point change in the poverty rate, as
shown in the legend.
- Race/Ethnicity. You have the choice of Non-Hispanic White,
Non-Hispanic Black, or Hispanic. The map shows the percent of
the group out of the total population of the neighborhood (or the
percentage point change in that figure for the change maps). Red
shades indicate that the group is more than 50 percent of the
population, or increases in that percentage in the change maps.
Green shades indicate the group is less than 50 percent, or that
the percentage that group is of the total population is
- Population Density. The density is the population divided
by the area. We divide all census tracts nationwide into
quartiles by density for graphing purposes. The change maps show
the percentage change. Note that the areas are constant over
time, so the percentage change in density is identical to the
percentage change in population. Two maps for the price of one!
- Median Year Built. This variable is based on the existing
housing units at the time of 2000 census. The housing units are
sorted by the year of construction. Then the median year build
is determined. The maps show the decade (1950s, 1960s, etc.) of
construction of the median housing unit. Neighborhoods in which
the median year built is after 1990 are essentially brand new
neighborhoods. More than half of the units were built between
the 1990 and 2000 Censuses.
- Median House Value. For 2000 only, we show the median value
of owner-occupied housing units. (With medians, it is hard to do
the spatial interpolation to prior years.)
The best way to learn to use the web site is to experiment. If
you get stuck, click on the "How to Use" button on the main page,
or click here.