Food Deserts & Urban retail inequality

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          The issue of supermarket access in urban African American communities has been the subject of intense and repeated study, consumer activism, civil rights advocacy, and Federal investigation. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, the issue of equitable supermarket access was the focus of at least six federal inquiries and a full session of the 1967 National Advisory Commission’s Hearings on Civil Disorders, which investigated how perceptions of predatory supermarket retailing sparked urban riots. Attempts to attract full-service supermarkets to historically under-served urban neighborhoods were also a key component of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Supermarkets are particularly useful measures of neighborhood access to desirable retail through their function as key anchors for large shopping centers and retail corridors, and as providers of food, the most essential, daily-use amenity. Examining the evolution and persistence of “food deserts” in U.S. cities thus encapsulates the broader challenges of attracting and maintaining desirable retail in urban minority neighborhoods.Through a series of papers, I advance research on the underlying causes of urban retail inequality though a longitudinal analysis of the rise of food deserts in Chicago, utilizing an address-specific census of supermarket locations from 1970 to 2000.



Chan Tack, A.M. “Explaining Neighborhood Inequalities in Amenity Access: How Firm Discrimination, Retail Business Models, and Residential Segregation Patterns created Food Deserts” Under review


                 * Winner, Baker Prize for Best Paper, University of Chicago, Division of                               Social Sciences

                 * Winner, Best Graduate Paper Prize, University of Chicago, Department of                       Sociology

                 * Special Honorable Mention, Best Paper, Society for the Study of Social                           Problems, Community Section

Chan Tack, A.M. (2014) “The Case for Spatially-Sensitive Data: How Data Structures affect Spatial Measurement and Substantive Theory” Historical Social Research 39 (2): 315-346