Economic Inclusion
Display Date

Class-based segregation negatively affects the stability and health of one’s living environment. The socioeconomic level of a given residential neighborhood and school system affects the health, education, and employment outcomes of its residents.

Evidence of the Relationship between Predictor and Related Outcomes

  • The concentration of poverty leads to the concentration of socioeconomic circumstances associated with poverty, including an increase in teenage pregnancy, male joblessness, single motherhood, and the odds a student drops out of high school (Massey, Gross, and Shibuya 1994).
  • Growing income inequality and socioeconomic segregation has been increasing segregation across friendship and romantic networks, residential neighborhoods, K–12 and university education, workplaces, and the labor market. Over the past 50 years, segregation along lines of education, income, and class have grown (Mijs and Roe 2021).
  • As of 2017, 40 percent of all low-income children attend schools with poverty rates at 75 percent or higher (Boser and Baffour 2017).
  • Mayer (2002) found that increased economic segregation exacerbates differences in educational attainment between high- and low-income children. Greater economic inequality between neighborhoods (at the census-tract level) reduces the educational attainment of low-income children.
  • The socioeconomic composition of the school one attends affects high school graduation and college enrollment. Palardy (2013, 746–47) remarks, “Controlling for an array of student and school factors, students who attend high socioeconomic composition (SEC) schools are 68% more likely to enroll at a 4-year college than students who attend low SEC schools. The association between SEC and attainment is due more to peer influences, which tend to be negative in the low SEC setting. … School practices that emphasize academics also play a major role, particularly in mediating the relationship between SEC and 4-year college enrollment. These findings suggest that integrating schools is likely necessary to fully address the negative consequences of attending a low SEC school.”
  • A 2015 paper using data from the Moving to Opportunity study showed that moving low-income households to neighborhoods of higher socioeconomic status improved college attendance and earnings for individuals who were young children at the time of the move. The children as adults were more likely to live in better neighborhoods and were less likely to become single parents (Chetty, Hendren, and Katz 2015).
  • The income level of a child’s neighborhood affects their adult economic outcomes, as “every extra year a child spends growing up in an area where permanent residents’ incomes are higher increases his or her [adult] income” (Chetty and Hendren 2018, 1160).
  • The spatial separation of high- and low- socioeconomic status individuals and families produces a geographic mismatch between the demand for jobs and those looking for employment. This contributes to high unemployment in neighborhoods of low socioeconomic status (Mouw 2000).
  • The Moving to Opportunity study provides evidence that adults’ physical and mental health (subjective well-being) improves when moving to neighborhoods of higher socioeconomic status (Ludwig et al. 2013).
  • As a consequence of residential segregation and concentrated poverty, children of low socioeconomic status, compared with those from higher-status families, are exposed to higher rates of crime and environment hazards and limited access to health services, which predicts worse adult health outcomes (Fiscella 2004).

How Investments Can Influence the Predictor at State or Local Levels

Through zoning and planning, communities can reduce economic segregation by creating more mixed-income neighborhoods. The research cited in this resource clearly illustrates the benefits to children and families with low incomes living in better-resourced neighborhoods. But interventions to create mixed-income developments or neighborhoods have shown mixed results. One suggestion to improve their success is to create space for civic participation (Thurber, Bogmann, and Heflinger 2017).


The primary reference is marked with an asterisk.

Boser, Ulrich, and Perpetual Baffour. 2017. “Isolated and Segregated: A New Look at the Income Divide in Our Nation’s Schooling System.” Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. 

Chetty, Raj, and Nathaniel Hendren. 2018. “The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility I: Childhood Exposure Effects.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 133 (3): 1107–62.

Chetty, Raj, Nathaniel Hendren, and Lawrence F. Katz. 2015. “The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment.” American Economic Review 106 (4): 855–902.

Fiscella, Kevin, and David R. Williams. 2004. “Health Disparities Based on Socioeconomic Inequities: Implications for Urban Health Care.” Academic Medicine 79 (12): 1139–47.

Ludwig, Jens, Greg J. Duncan, Lisa A. Gennetian, Lawrence F. Katz, Ronald C. Kessler, Jeffrey R. Kling, and Lisa Sanbonmatsu. 2013. “Long-Term Neighborhood Effects on Low-Income Families: Evidence from Moving to Opportunity.” American Economic Review 103 (3): 226–31.

Massey, Douglas S., Andrew B. Gross, and Kumiko Shibuya. 1994. “Migration, Segregation, and the Geographic Concentration of Poverty.” American Sociological Review 59 (3): 425–45.

* Mayer, Susan E. 2002. “How Economic Segregation Affects Children's Educational Attainment.” Social Forces 81 (1): 153–76.

Mijs, Jonathan J. B., and Elizabeth L. Roe. 2021. “Is America Coming Apart? Socioeconomic Segregation in Neighborhoods, Schools, Workplaces, and Social Networks, 1970-2020.” Sociology Compass 15 (6).

Mouw, Ted. 2000. “Job Relocation and the Racial Gap in Unemployment in Detroit and Chicago, 1980 to 1990.” American Sociological Review 65 (5): 730–53.

Palardy, Gregory J. 2013. “High School Socioeonomic Segregation and Student Attainment.” American Educational Research Journal 50 (4): 714–54. 

Thurber, Amie, Claire Riehle Bohmann, and Craig Anne Heflinger. 2017. “Spatially Integrated and Socially Segregated: The Effects of Mixed-Income Neighborhoods on Social Well-Being.” Urban Studies 55 (9).

Opportunity-Rich & Inclusive Neighborhoods

Related outcome: Stable and healthy living environment; age-appropriate cognitive development and educational attainment; positive employment environment; good physical health

Mobility dimension engaged: Economic success; power and autonomy; being valued in community

Couple Walking illustration