//Growth of Poverty in Metro Atlanta

Growth of Poverty in Metro Atlanta

Economic Research Topics:

  • Until recently, suburbia has been associated with middle or upper class affluence. Over the past decade the growth of poverty in the suburbs and exurbs has increased dramatically, with metro Atlanta experiencing one of the highest growth rates of suburban poverty over the past decade.


  • In 2008, more poor people lived in suburban areas than central cities nationally. While poverty is associated with a variety of social problems including crime, gang activity, drug use and abuse, teenage pregnancy, and low performing schools, suburbanization of poverty only compounds these problems.


  • Suburbs are generally ill equipped to confront the growth of poverty for several reasons:
    • 1) the phenomena is relatively new and the history of confronting poverty in the USA has been “place based” in either the inner city or rural areas;
    • 2) compared to urban areas, the suburbs lack the infrastructure typically associated with confronting poverty such as a lack of non-profits and lower levels of charitable spending;
    • 3) transit access is much more limited in the suburbs compared to cities.


  • Regarding transit access, Metro Atlanta’s poor public transit may be both a cause of, and a significant barrier to reducing suburban poverty (“Confronting Suburban Poverty in America”, Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube). Additionally, a 2011 Brookings Institution study of 100 metro transit systems across the U.S. ranked Atlanta 91st out of 100 in terms of accessibility and coverage, thus solidifying the issue of growth of suburban poverty in Metro Atlanta