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Small, M. L., Stark, L. (2005). Are Poor Neighborhoods Resource Deprived? A Case Study of Childcare Centers in New York. Social Science Quarterly 86(s1):1013-36.

Objective. Many social scientists believe poor mothers are better off in middle-class than in poor neighborhoods, partly because the latter are deprived of important institutional resources. We test whether poor neighborhoods are more likely to lack one critical institutional resource, the childcare center. Methods. We use geocoded data on all licensed centers in the City of New York, address matched to Census tracts. We estimate logit models of presence of center in tract, testing for the linear and nonlinear effects of tract poverty level after controlling for residential instability, joblessness, ethnic makeup, and other demographic factors. We complement the analysis with documentary, interview, and ethnographic data on centers in one poor and one nonpoor neighborhood in the city. Results. We find (1) that the probability of presence of a childcare center does not decrease as poverty level increases; (2) the relationship depends strongly on funding source, with privately funded centers being less likely and publicly funded ones more likely to be present in poor neighborhoods; and (3) at least two factors affect why poor neighborhoods are more likely to have certain centers, the local state and the (often neglected)
nonprofit infrastructure. Conclusions. The findings suggest that poor mothers are not necessarily better off in middle-class neighborhoods in this respect. The market assumptions underlying the initial hypothesis should be modified. More empirical research on the effect of the nonprofit sector on the prevalence of neighborhood institutions is needed.


Small, Mario Luis

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., 2001, Harvard University, has been at the University of Chicago since 2006. A recipient of the C. Wright Mills Best Book Award (2005 and 2010), the Robert Park Best Book Award (2005), the Jane Addams Best Article Award (2004), and numerous other honors, he has published books...

Stark, Laura

Laura Stark is assistant professor of Science in Society, and of Sociology at Wesleyan University, and is also an associate of the College of the Environment at the university. She completed a Stetten Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in 2010, and is continuing her research on NIH as...

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