How shuttering schools can speed up gentrification

April 11, 2022

Researchers at Stanford set out to fill that gap. They found that school closures increased gentrification, but only in Black neighborhoods.

The study, set to publish this spring, examined every urban school closure nationwide between 2000 and 2012. It revealed that closures increased the likelihood of property values rising and more affluent households moving into Black communities, from 19 to 27%. When school closures happened in white and Latinx communities, however, researchers found no evidence of the same pattern.

I spoke with the study’s co-authors, Francis Pearman and Danielle Marie Greene, about possible explanations for these findings.

Affluent people moving into a previously disinvested neighborhood generally consider public schools with mostly white or Latinx students an asset, Pearman told me. Yet they’re more likely to have negative associations with schools that serve large numbers of Black students. “When it comes to Black neighborhoods, affluent people do mind the neighborhood school,” Pearman said of the study findings. “If you close it, it increases the likelihood that the neighborhood will be seen as a potential destination.”