Diverging trajectories of neighborhood disadvantage by race and birth cohort from childhood through young adulthood

PLoS One. 2023 Apr 19;18(4):e0283641. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0283641. eCollection 2023.


Prior research has established the greater exposure of African Americans from all income groups to disadvantaged environments compared to whites, but the traditional focus in studies of neighborhood stratification obscures heterogeneity within racial/ethnic groups in residential attainment over time. Also obscured are the moderating influences of broader social changes on the life-course and the experiences of Latinos, a large and growing presence in American cities. We address these issues by examining group-based trajectory models of residential neighborhood disadvantage among white, Black, and Latino individuals in a multi-cohort longitudinal research design of over 1,000 children from Chicago as they transitioned to adulthood over the last quarter century. We find considerable temporal consistency among white individuals compared to dynamic heterogeneity among nonwhite individuals in exposure to residential disadvantage, especially Black individuals and those born in the 1980s compared to the 1990s. Racial and cohort differences are not accounted for by early-life characteristics that predict long-term attainment. Inequalities by race in trajectories of neighborhood disadvantage are thus at once more stable and more dynamic than previous research suggests, and they are modified by broader social changes. These findings offer insights on the changing pathways by which neighborhood racial inequality is produced.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Cohort*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Chicago / ethnology
  • Child
  • Ethnicity* / statistics & numerical data
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Neighborhood Characteristics* / statistics & numerical data
  • Race Factors
  • Racial Groups* / ethnology
  • Racial Groups* / statistics & numerical data
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • White / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.