Opportunities for making ends meet and upward mobility: differences in organizational deprivation across urban and suburban poor neighborhoods

Soc Sci Q. 2010;91(5):1164-186. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2010.00726.x.


Objectives. Given the recent rise of poverty in U.S. suburbs, this study asks: What poor neighborhoods are most disadvantageous, those in the city or those in the suburbs? Building on recent urban sociological work demonstrating the importance of neighborhood organizations for the poor, we are concerned with one aspect of disadvantage—the lack of availability of organizational resources oriented toward the poor. By breaking down organizations into those that promote mobility versus those that help individuals meet their daily subsistence needs, we seek to explore potential variations in the type of disadvantage that may exist.Methods. We test whether poor urban or suburban neighborhoods are more likely to be organizationally deprived by breaking down organizations into three types: hardship organizations, educational organizations, and employment organizations. We use data from the 2000 U.S. County Business Patterns and the 2000 U.S. Census and test neighborhood deprivation using logistic regression models.Results. We find that suburban poor neighborhoods are more likely to be organizationally deprived than are urban poor neighborhoods, especially with respect to organizations that promote upward mobility. Interesting racial and ethnic composition factors shape this more general finding.Conclusion. Our findings suggest that if a poor individual is to live in a poor neighborhood, with respect to access to organizational resources, he or she would be better off living in the central city. Suburban residence engenders isolation from organizations that will help meet one's daily needs and even more so from those offering opportunities for mobility.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Deprivation
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Organizations* / economics
  • Organizations* / history
  • Organizations* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Population Dynamics* / history
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Public Assistance / economics
  • Public Assistance / history
  • Public Assistance / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Residence Characteristics / history
  • Social Problems / economics
  • Social Problems / ethnology
  • Social Problems / history
  • Social Problems / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Social Problems / psychology
  • Social Responsibility
  • Socioeconomic Factors* / history
  • Suburban Health / history
  • Suburban Population* / history
  • United States / ethnology
  • Urban Health / history
  • Urban Population* / history