The Surprising Insignificance of Race: A Spatial Analysis of Race and Class Effects on Supermarket-Access in Chicago, 1970-2000

Anjanette M. Chan Tack, University of Chicago

Studies examining neighborhood effects on health have found that residence in neighborhoods with acess to full-service grocery stores that supply a range of fresh, affordable fruits, vegetables and dairy products is associated with lower rates of obesity, diabetes and CHD. My paper contributes to ongoing research on the health effects of “food deserts” by investigating the ultimate causes of neighborhood access to essential, health-promoting amenities. Using Chicago as a case, I examine the effects of neighborhood racial and poverty composition on neighborhood access to full-service grocery stores, and how these effects have changed over the 4-decade period from 1970 to 2000. I use spatially-weighted regression to test Wilson's (1987) and Massey's (1993) competing theories, which debate whether race and class, or class alone affect neighborhood quality. I find that when spatial spillovers between contiguous neighborhoods are taken into account, it is class, not race, which predicts grocery store access.

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Presented in Session 30: Context, Health and Well-Being