Nav: Home

Exposing the realities of eviction

February 22, 2017

"Eviction" is a term that has become increasingly familiar to Americans over the past decade as one of the most visible symbols of poverty and economic misfortune. But research by social scientist and ethnographer Matthew Desmond shows that the reality of eviction is more complicated than traditional narratives might indicate.

Notably, Desmond says, eviction can actually serve as a cause of poverty, rather than an effect.

"One of our studies shows eviction can cause higher rates of job loss," said Desmond, a professor at Harvard University, whose work received support from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate. "Prior to that, I thought it was the other way around -- that job loss causes eviction. It certainly does in some cases, but we have stronger evidence showing that eviction leads to job loss."

Desmond said eviction can destabilize people who were already in economically vulnerable positions. "It causes folks who didn't have great jobs in the first place to lose those jobs," he said.

Work by Desmond and his team of researchers has proven influential in the social science world, as have his methods for gathering and analyzing data on a topic where reliable information can be difficult to find. His research team draws on state-level data, court records, police reports and personal interactions. Desmond spent months living in a trailer park and inner-city apartments to meet families experiencing poverty and affected by eviction.

The team's work in Wisconsin led to the creation of the Milwaukee Area Renters Study, a synthesis of data that sheds light on the causes and consequences of eviction.

The researchers are currently expanding their work to other areas of the country, and the MacArthur Foundation recognized Desmond's efforts by naming him a 2015 fellow.

Evictions were once rare enough in the United States that they could draw protests from neighbors trying to prevent them, Desmond said. Today, he says, "low-income families are used to the rumble of the moving truck," making evictions more important to study now than ever.
-end-


National Science Foundation

Related Poverty Articles:

Cities provide paths from poverty to sustainability
Understanding how cities develop at the neighborhood level is key to promoting equitable, sustainable urbanization.
Growing isolation of poor helps explain changes in concentrated poverty
Concentrated poverty -- neighborhoods where 40 percent of the population or more lives below the federal poverty level -- is back on the rise for all races in the United States, according to Penn State demographers.
Mobile phone and satellite data to map poverty
An international team has, for the first time, developed a way of combining anonymised data from mobile phones and satellite imagery data to create high resolution maps to measure poverty.
Childhood poverty can rob adults of psychological health
A large and growing body of research shows that poor kids grow up to have a host of physical problems as adults.
Out in the rural: A Mississippi health center and its war on poverty
Historian and Author Thomas J. Ward Jr. will be joined by Dr.
Predicting poverty by satellite with detailed accuracy
By combining satellite data and sophisticated machine learning, researchers have developed a technique to estimate household consumption and income.
Can energy access end poverty?
On June 15, 2016, an interactive debate,
Poverty marks a gene, predicting depression
A long line of research links poverty and depression. Now a study by Duke University scientists unveils some of the biology of depression in high-risk adolescents whose families are socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Researchers find a fast road out of poverty
Researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Toronto measured how households who owned property in the upgraded roads were also allowed to spend more on credit so they could buy items for the home or cars that made them better off.
Nearly half of American children living near poverty line
Nearly half of children in the US live dangerously close to the poverty line, according to new research from the National Center for Children in Poverty.

Related Poverty Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".