Working Paper

Has COVID Reversed Gentrification in Major U.S. Cities? An Empirical Examination of Residential Mobility in Gentrifying Neighborhoods During the COVID-19 Crisis

Abstract: This paper examines whether neighborhoods that had been gentrifying lost their appeal during the pandemic because of COVID-induced health risks and increased work-from-home arrangements. By following the mobility pattern of residents in gentrifying neighborhoods in 39 major U.S. cities, we note a larger increase of 1.2 percentage points in the outmigration rate from gentrifying neighborhoods by the end of 2021, relative to nongentrifying ones, with out-of-city moves accounting for over 71 percent of the increased flight. The share of out-of-city moves into gentrifying neighborhoods also decreased significantly during the pandemic. Residents with high credit scores, younger residents, and probable homeowners were more likely to leave gentrifying neighborhoods and their respective cities. Gentrifying neighborhoods closer to city centers, with higher density or higher housing costs, or in cities that are more vulnerable to the pandemic were hit harder by COVID-induced adjustments. The results are consistent with the contention that the pandemic has slowed the pace of gentrification in many major U.S. cities. This slowed gentrification has important policy implications for local government public finance, as well as the long-term future of cities.

Keywords: Gentrification; Mobility; COVID-19; Work-from-home; Spatial Dynamics;

JEL Classification: R11; I18; H11; H2;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2022-08-17

Number: 22-20