“We want our neighborhood to flourish. It’s just that when real estate changes hands, someone has to move, and we’re tired of moving.” That’s an inexact quote about the Wicker Park neighborhood from a Chicago Reader article from 1988. The ‘hood followed a familiar trajectory: It was first transformed by working-class families, attracted artists, got spruced up by yuppies, and then Starbucks (and The Real World) moved in.
Those who study gentrification don’t care how many dog parks or artisan ice cream shops an area has; instead, they look at who lives there and their household income. British sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term in 1964, based on the way the London “gentry” — in reality young professionals — were moving to Islington, a borough then heavily populated by West Indian immigrants. Over 50 years later, gentrification is an on-going process, fueled by those with medium or high incomes moving to low-income neighborhoods.
It’s pretty easy to find out if you’re a gentrifier, according to Slate. New York University professor of public policy and urban planning Ingrid Gould Ellen came up with a simple formula: “If your neighborhood’s median income is lower than the median income of your city, and your income is higher than your city’s median, you’re a gentrifier.”
Based on this and data from the American Community Survey, Slate created a calculator, which you can try out. You enter your income, household type, state, county, and ZIP code, and it will tell you if you’re making more than 1.3 times your county’s median and neighborhood’s median. If so, you’re a gentrifier. If not, you are either too poor to be a gentrifier or your ‘hood has already been gentrified.
Chances are you don’t need a calculator to tell you if the neighborhood you’re living in is undergoing gentrification, but this could be a useful tool if you have concerns about whether or not moving to a new neighborhood will have an affect.