The right side of the tracks: Affluent neighborhoods in the metropolitan United States

Barrett A. Lee, Matthew Marlay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objectives. We describe the geography, population composition, and housing stock of extremely affluent neighborhoods and evaluate the extent to which conclusions about these neighborhoods differ across definitions of affluence. Methods. Using Census 2000 data on tracts in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, we compare neighborhoods at the very top of the income distribution (highest 2 percent) to their counterparts in lower-income categories. The distributions for median household income, median family income, per-capita income, and the household income ratio allow us to define affluence in alternative ways. Results. Contrary to past findings, rich neighborhoods are no longer concentrated in the Northeast, and they exhibit substantial proportions of foreign-born and Asian residents and average labor force participation rates. Other of their characteristics (e.g., educational level, professional- managerial employment, housing size and value) seem more predictable. Although certain results vary depending on how affluence is defined, the majority do not. Conclusion. Our analysis lays an empirical foundation for future work on affluent neighborhoods, which have received scant research attention. It also makes a conceptual contribution, demonstrating that such neighborhoods stand out irrespective of the definitional approach taken.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-789
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'The right side of the tracks: Affluent neighborhoods in the metropolitan United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this