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If you live in an area in your neighborhood whereyou have people that don’t work, don’t have nomeans of support, you know, don’t have no jobs,who’re gonna break into your house to steal whatyou have, to sell to get them some money, then youcan’t live in a neighborhood and try to concentrateon tryin’ to get ahead, then you get to work and youhave to worry if somebody’s breakin’ into yourhouse or not. So, you know, it’s best to try to movein a decent area, to live in a community with peoplethat works.In 1959, less than one-third of the poverty popula-tion in the United States lived in metropolitan centralcities. By 1991, the central cities included close to half of the nation’s poor. Many of the most rapidincreases in concentrated poverty have occurred inAfrican–American neighborhoods. For example, in the ten community areas that represent the historiccore of Chicago’s Black Belt (see Figure 1), eight hadrates of poverty in 1990 that exceeded 45 percent,including three with rates higher than 50 percent andthree that surpassed 60 percent. Twenty-five yearsearlier, in 1970, only two of these neighborhoods hadpoverty rates above 40 percent.In recent years, social scientists have paid particularattention to the increases in urban neighborhoodpoverty. “Defining an urban neighborhood for ana-lytical purposes is no easy task.” The community areasof Chicago referred to in Figure 1 include a number ofadjacent census tracts. The seventy-seven communityareas within the city of Chicago represent statisticalunits derived by urban sociologists at the University ofChicago for the 1930 census in their effort to analyzevarying conditions within the city. These delineationswere originally drawn up on the basis of settlement andhistory of the area, local identification and tradepatterns, local institutions, and natural and artificialbarriers. There have been major shifts in populationand land use since then. But these units remain usefulin tracing changes over time, and they continue tocapture much of the contemporary reality of Chicagoneighborhoods.W I L L I A M J U L I U S W I L S O N120
Other cities, however, do not have such convenientclassifications of neighborhoods, which means thatcomparison across cities cannot be drawn usingcommunity areas. The measurable unit consideredmost appropriate to represent urban neighborhoods isthe census tract. In attempts to examine this problemof ghetto poverty across the nation empirically, socialscientists have tended to define ghetto neighborhoodsas those located in the ghetto povertycensus tracts. As indicated earlier, ghetto poverty census tracts are those in which at least 40 percent of the residentsare poor. For example, Paul Jargowsky and Mary JoBane state: “Visits to various cities confirmed that the40 percent criterion came very close to identifyingareas that looked like ghettos in terms of their housingconditions. Moreover, the areas selected by the 40percent criterion corresponded closely with the