City in the Suburbs

January 20, 2010

Poverty–often associated with urban areas–increased nearly 1 percent in Philadelphia’s suburbs between 2000 and 2008, partly because of two recessions, according to a report released today and announced in a story in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

Poverty in the suburbs reached a rate of 7.4 percent, compared with 24.1 percent within Philadelphia, according to the report by the Brookings Institution. Citywide poverty increased 1.2 percent between 2000 and 2008, the report showed.

Not long ago, a team of Temple researches noticed this trend as they examined patterns of growth in metropolitan Philadelphia.

They saw city-like conditions in some suburbs, and found the suburbs in the city.

In their book, Restructuring the Philadelphia Region: Metropolitan Divisions and Inequality (Temple University Press, 2008) Carolyn Adams, David Bartelt, David Elesh, and Ira Goldstein call attention not only to the region’s heterogeneity, but also to the need for a unified approach to addressing inequalities and improving competitiveness in the global economy.  (Adams and Bartelt are professors of geography and urban studies; Elesh is associate professor of sociology, and Goldstein is Director of Policy and Information Services for The Reinvestment Fund.)

“Relying on the old categories of city versus suburb no longer makes sense.  This traditional distinction does not capture the dynamics of regional development,” said Bartelt.

To read more and view a slide show:  Philly, suburbs share stake in region’s future

–Kim Fischer

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