October 11, 2018

Gentrification: What's Really Happening?

by Science Vs

Background show artwork for Science Vs

You’ve probably heard that gentrification changes neighborhoods for the worse: first come the hipsters and then the bankers. Soon, the neighborhood is overrun with dog spas and wine bars, and the original residents are nowhere in sight.

But what does the science say? And, is there anything good about gentrification? We speak to Prof. Lance Freeman, Prof. Rachel Meltzer and Nicole Mader to find out.

Check out the transcript right here: http://bit.ly/2VQJsgp

UPDATE 10/23/18: An earlier version of this episode misstated number of calls in our 311 analysis as "over 900,000." While the analysis started with over 900,000 calls, the number of calls over 6 years was a bit over 600,000. We've updated the episode to reflect that. 

Selected references: 

  • Lance’s study on displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods
  • Rachel’s studies on jobs and businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods 
  • Nicole’s study on what’s happening with public schools with gentrification 
  • This study by NYU’s Furman study which has all sorts of stats on gentrifying neighborhoods

And the results on our own number crunching:

With an analysis of more 600,000 calls to 311, we found that people in New York are complaining more about their neighbors’ noise in gentrifying neighborhoods compared to other neighborhoods - a trend that has become pronounced in the last few years. The calls in gentrifying neighborhoods rose twice as quickly as high income neighborhoods. When compared to low income neighborhoods, the difference was also significant: calls in gentrifying neighborhoods increased 50% faster than in low income neighborhoods which haven’t gentrified. 

We used 311 data from NYC Open Data, demographic information from CoreData.nyc, normalized to population from https://www.opendatanetwork.com (which uses U.S. Census data), and the methodologies the NYU Furman center to determine which NYC neighborhoods gentrified over this period of time (2011-2016). We chose to filtered the calls to analyze “noise complaints,” following Legewie & Schaeffer (2016)


This episode was produced by Meryl Horn and Kaitlyn Sawrey with help from Wendy Zukerman, along with Rose Rimler and Odelia Rubin. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Mix and sound design by Emma Munger. Music by Emma Munger and Bobby Lord. A huge thanks to Kurtis Melby who helped us with the 311 call analysis. For this episode we also spoke to Associate Professor Japonica Brown-Saracino, Professor Elvin Wyly, Assistant Professor Stacey Sutton, Associate Professor T. William Lester, Amy Collado, Assistant Professor Francis Pearman, Dr Miriam Zuk and, Lorena Lopez. A big thanks to Francisco Lopez, Amber Davis, the Zukerman fam and Joseph Lavelle Wilson.