Making Our Neighborhoods, Making Our Selves

Making Our Neighborhoods, Making Our Selves

George C. Galster

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226599854

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book presents a holistic, multi-disciplinary analysis of the origins, nature, and consequences of neighborhood change and offers strategies for making a more socially desirable palette of neighborhoods in America. We make our neighborhoods and then they make us serves as the foundational proposition of this book. That is, our collective actions in metropolitan housing submarkets regarding where we live and invest financially and socially will determine what characteristics our neighborhoods will manifest and how they will evolve. In turn, these multidimensional neighborhood characteristics influence our attitudes, perceptions, behaviors, health, quality of life, financial well-being, children’s development, and families’ opportunities for social advancement. Unfortunately, private, market-oriented decision-makers now governing human and financial resource flows among neighborhoods usually arrive at an inefficient allocation due to externalities, strategic gaming, and self-fulfilling prophecies. This failure systematically produces too-little housing investment in many places and too much segregation by race and income. Moreover, lower-income, black and Hispanic households and property owners typically bear a disproportionate share of the costs associated with under-investment, segregation and neighborhood transition processes, while reaping comparatively little of their benefits. Ultimately, our current configuration of neighborhoods creates unequal opportunities. Because neighborhood context affects children, youth, and adults—yet neighborhood contexts are extremely unequal across economic and racial groups—space becomes a way of perpetuating unequal opportunities for social advancement. To remedy these substantial market failures, this book advances neighborhood-supportive public policies guided by the principle of strategic targeting.