(this post was an essay that I had written for my urban economics class)
The increase of poverty in suburbia results from suburbia becoming no longer economically feasible for its residents (Emerson 417). This prediction is the opposite of the status quo in
America. This prediction is not new to me but is to those who are not very familiar
with urban economics. In the past few years, I have witnessed the increase of poverty
in the suburbs in the Cleveland area and believe this general trend will continue in
the future for several reasons.
The physical infrastructure in the oldest suburbs is beginning to deteriorate. Pub-
lically funded physical infrastructures like recreation centers, schools, parks, shopping
centers, and malls begin to deteriorate physically after their initial constructions in
the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. With newer ones built around it, the older suburb’s
experiences a decrease in the sales,
The housing stock also begins to deteriorate. My father, a plumber, has a lot of
business from people living in the inner-ring suburbs, whose houses’ has the original
plumbing fixtures, needing to be replaced after 30-40 years. Moreover, the quality
of the original plumbing work, lasting for only 30-40 years, is often worse than the
old city plumbing fixtures (iron and brass) which has been able to last longer. The
plumbing is just one problem of these houses’ infrastructures, quickly built following
WWII in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
Outer-ring suburbs have usually have the newer housing stock and public infras-
tructure, attracting inner-ring suburb residents. Unless inner-ring suburbs are able
to raise the revenue for the physical infrastructures, people will continue to move
further from the city. To raise this revenue, the suburb may have to raise taxes or
cut city services.
In the near future, the donut (a barren, city as the hole, surrounded the wealth
of glaze and flour) will not symbolize income distribution of residents in cities. For
the case of Cleveland, it may be a city core with a mix of some gentrified neighbor-
hoods and poor ones, deteriorated inner-ring suburbs, surrounded by an outer-ring of wealthy suburbs.
One counterpoint, that I really want to mention that I don’t know where to fit
in this paper is that the factors that I mentioned are economically based. Other
factors, especially a person’s, family’s, or business’ loyalty and identification to the
community and neighborhood may make the incentives to leave less attractive. Inner-
ring suburbs that have unique cultural attractions and businesse whose customers
and residents continue to patronize them is important factor to prevent people from
moving out to the newer suburbs and convince people to invest in the community.