New Journal Issue: Suburban Inequality

April 6, 2023

Suburbs are home to almost half of all Americans and have undergone dramatic demographic shifts over the past 20 years. Yet, suburbs remain understudied, and we know little about the socioeconomic changes taking place in these communities. In this special double issue of RSF, R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy (New York University), Natasha Warikoo (Tufts University), Stephen A. Matthews (Pennsylvania State University), and an interdisciplinary group of contributors examine how suburbs have evolved and the growing inequality within and between them.

Issue 1 looks at the diversification of suburbs as well as inequality in suburban housing. Kasey Zapatka and Van C. Tran find that cities and suburbs in the New York City metropolitan area have seen a significant decline in segregated neighborhoods but that suburbs have seen a more dramatic decline. Devin Q. Rutan and colleagues reveal that the number of suburban evictions has steadily risen over time, even as urban evictions have remained stable. Jennifer Girouard examines the passage of a Massachusetts law, Chapter 40B in 1969, intended to ensure affordable housing is built in the suburbs. Local residents opposed to the law used tactics such as creating narratives of the town being victimized by predatory developers to resist the law and the development of affordable housing.

Issue 2 examines suburban schools, how social supports function in suburban areas, and suburban politics. Shruti Bathia and colleagues find that between 2000 and 2015, suburban Latinx children’s exposure to white peers declined. Scott W. Allard and Elizabeth Pelletier reveal that the nonprofit safety net is less developed in suburban areas than in urban centers, particularly those that have high levels of poverty and larger Black populations. Brenden Beck shows that suburbs with large Black populations also rely the most on fine-and-fee revenue, and further that municipalities that rely more on monetary sanctions have more police killings. Ankit Rastogi and Michael Jones-Correa find that the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election depended on turnout in heavily Black suburban precincts, which voted overwhelmingly for Biden, as well as Asian and Latinx precincts, which also supported Democrats.

This volume of RSF investigates the underexamined and pressing issue of inequality in suburbs and explores how it develops within and between suburban communities.

View the full open-access issue of RSF here.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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