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rent gap

  The rent gap describes the discrepancy between actual rent attracted by a piece of land (\'capitalized ground rent\') and the rent that could be gleaned under a higher and better use (\'potential ground rent\'). The rent gap is a central element in explanations of gentrification (Smith, 1979, 1996; Clark, 1995). To the extent that disinvestment in the built environment brings about a reciprocal decline in ground rent for the land on which structures sit, the rent gap expands and the opportunities for reinvestment increase. Geographically, the rent gap has emerged in inner-city areas where disinvestment was not sufficiently compensated by reinvestment, and a distinct valley in land values resulted (see the figure). Empirically, the rent gap has been identified in cities on three continents (Clark, 1987; Badcock, 1989) as a precursor to gentrification. Although subjected to some criticism (Beauregard, 1990; Hamnett, 1991), the rent gap, in the light of 1990s gentrification tied closely to economic swings, remains a theoretical linchpin in explanations of gentrification. (NS)

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rent gap The evolution of land values in Chicago (after Hoyt, 1933)

References Badcock, B. 1989: Smith\'s Rent Gap Hypothesis: an Australian view. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 79: 125-45. Beauregard, R. 1990. Trajectories of neighborhood change: the case of gentrification. Environment and Planning A 22: 855-74. Clark, E. 1987: The rent gap and urban change: case studies in Malmo, 1860-1985. Lund: Lund University Press. Clark, E. 1995. The rent gap re-examined. Urban Studies 32: 1489-503. Hamnett, C. 1991: The blind men and the elephant: the explanation of gentrification. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 16: 173-89. Smith, N. 1979: Toward a theory of gentrification: a back to the city movement by capital not people. Journal of the American Planners Association 45: 538-48. Smith, N. 1996: The new urban frontier. London: Routledge.



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