Spatial Segregation

Because neighborhoods are so segregated, poor people tend to cluster together in neighborhoods with poor schools, few jobs, and few positive role models. Could substantial reductions in poverty be achieved through neighborhood desegregation?

The Gatreaux program was a court-ordered experiment in desegregation that resulted from a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Chicago Housing Authority. The evidence from the Gatreaux program suggests that children whose families moved to suburban areas had superior outcomes (e.g., higher educational achievement) relative to children whose families moved to an inner-city neighborhood.

The Gatreaux results prompted the famous and much-studied Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration program based on a more rigorous experimental design. Although the MTO results show less impressive effects (of moving out of poor neighborhoods), this difference is difficult to interpret given that the MTO program was a comparatively modest intervention involving shorter-distance moves.

For more information, consult the research of our affiliates on land, housing, and homelessness.