We characterize axiomatically a new index of urban poverty that i) captures aspects of the incidence and distribution of poverty across neighborhoods of a city, ii) is related to the Gini index and iii) is consistent with empirical evidence that living in a high poverty neighborhood is detrimental for many dimensions of residents’ well-being.Widely adopted measures of urban poverty, such as the concentrated poverty index, may violate some of the desirable properties we outline. Furthermore, we show that changes of urban poverty within the same city are additively decomposable into the contribution of demographic, convergence, reranking and spatial effects. We collect new evidence of heterogeneous patterns and trends of urban poverty across American metro areas over the last 35 years.
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