Distilling the Effect of the Great Recession on Food Access in a Segregated City: A Spatial, Quasi-Experimental Approach

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The Great Recession greatly exacerbated income inequality and might have also magnified unequal access to healthy food in the United States. There is a growing need to examine small-area effects of the Great Recession, especially among minority populations who were disproportionately targeted for predatory loans and experienced higher rates of foreclosure. To explore how the Great Recession interacted with a foodscape locally, a counterfactual quasi-experimental analysis extended by spatial econometric models is implemented to quantify the impact of foreclosure risk on supermarket access in Chicago. Black-majority, lower-income neighborhoods with higher risk of foreclosure experienced a small but significant worsening in food accessibility after the Great Recession, reflecting a compounding crisis of structural segregation and economic vulnerability. The results further suggest that inference interpretation is sensitive to both research design framing and underlying processes that drive geographically distributed relationships. For highly spatial phenomenon like segregation and foreclosure, making space explicit might not only clarify results but also enrich interpretation and understanding of underlying processes. It is essential to better understand the role segregation and structural inequality might have in perpetuating environments that contribute to social and health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-593
Number of pages12
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • food access
  • quasi-experimental
  • recession
  • segregation
  • spatial econometrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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