Article written by 2007 DPDF The Political Economy of Redistribution Fellow Rachel Meltzer and Jenny Schuetz, featured in Economic Development Quarterly, Volume 26, No. 1:
Social scientists studying the disadvantages of poor urban neighborhoods have focused on the quality of publicly provided amenities. However, the quantity and quality of local private amenities, such as grocery stores and restaurants, can also have important quality-of-life implications for neighborhood residents. In the current article, the authors develop neighborhood-level metrics of “retail access” and analyze how retail services vary across New York City neighborhoods by income and by racial composition. The authors then examine how retail services change over time, particularly in neighborhoods undergoing rapid economic growth. Results indicate that lower income and minority neighborhoods have fewer retail establishments, smaller average establishments, a higher proportion of “unhealthy” restaurants, and in certain cases, less diversity across retail subsectors. In addition, the rate of retail growth between 1998 and 2007 has been particularly fast in neighborhoods that were initially lower valued and experienced relatively high housing price appreciation compared with the city overall.