Exactly what it says on the tin: is there a word that means precisely the opposite of "gentrification"? That is, the decline of a neighborhood due to an influx of lower-class families and individuals leading to an eventual flight of the middle- or upper-class residents.

  • 1
    You use the metaphor yourself. Decline is part of the Up/Down metaphor theme complex which links social class, economic class, propriety of behavior, imputed intelligence, and imputed morality. Basically, Up is Good, Down is Bad, where Good and Bad are defined socially. Gentrification is a recent concocted word to describe a recent situation; but cities and districts have been declining for millennia without needing a special term. Dec 16, 2014 at 18:33
  • Churlification. (protologism)
    – TimR
    Dec 16, 2014 at 18:34
  • 1
    I can't think of a single word, but urban decay and urban decline come to mind. "There goes the neighborhood" as well. Dec 16, 2014 at 18:38
  • I am sure I have seen the word 'slumification' used to define the gradual decay of a populated area into slums. However, bizarrely, no dictionaries to which I have access carry a definition for that word. I am puzzled.
    – Marv Mills
    Dec 16, 2014 at 23:00
  • Context about this phenomenon helps; with gentrification you have a traditionally working class environment to start with, not necessarily "low-class". It's often about demographic changes, regional shifts, forum shopping etc. Maybe the term you look for is simply popular; it does not spell doom upon a neighborhood by design.
    – user98955
    Dec 17, 2014 at 2:54

6 Answers 6




or if you're open to more than one word:

urban blight

From OED:

The degeneration of a landscape or urban area as a result of neglect:

  • 'the city’s high-rise social housing had become synonymous with urban blight'
  • 'Urban blight is cumulative and self-reinforcing; blighted buildings cast a pall on land around them, discourage upkeep, and stifle renewal.'

What about ghettoisation

Alternate spelling is "ghettoization"


Not in common use today but this used to be called blockbusting.

Blockbusting: Blockbusting was a business process of U.S. real estate agents and building developers to convince white property owners to sell their house at low prices out of fear that racial minorities would soon be moving into the neighborhood. The agents then sold the houses at much higher prices to black families desperate to escape the overcrowded ghettos.[1] Blockbusting became possible after the legislative and judicial dismantling of legally protected racially segregated real estate practices after World War II. By the 1980s it largely disappeared as a business practice after changes in law and the real estate market.[2] After the millennium claims were made that it was again being practiced in New York State on behalf of orthodox Jews.[3][4]


I missed the earlier comment that offered the same answer/link. As a new user what is the proper etiquette for this situation?


In a radio interview the other day (specifically, on Marketplace, NPR's show about the economy), I heard someone tell the interviewer that they were planning to move from their neighbourhood because it was 'in transition': apparently, it used to be a solidly middle-class suburb, but is now deteriorating.

I'm not sure how prevalent this term is as a euphemism for the phenomenon you are describing, but you might consider using it if the context would make your intended meaning clear. (Clearly, in isolation it could imply that the neighbourhood is either deteriorating or improving.)



white trash

: usually disparaging a member of an inferior or underprivileged white social group


neighborhood impaction


: of, relating to, or being an area (as a school district) providing tax-supported services to a population having a large proportion of federal employees and especially those living or working on tax-exempt federal property aid to education in impacted areas


: densely populated; overcrowded: an impacted school district. [1675–85; obsolete impact adj. (< Latin impāctus, past participle of impingere to fasten, cause to collide, strike; see impinge + -ed2]


: the state of being impacted. [1730–40; < Late Latin]

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary


pauperisation (latin: pauper - poor)

  • 1
    What makes you think that the Gentry are the opposite of poor?
    – Chenmunka
    Sep 20, 2015 at 18:56
  • @Chenmunka in this context, "gentrification" doesn't literally mean that the gentry (ie aristocracy) live there - it just means that rents and house prices are going up, and the character of the neighbourhood is changing as a result. Apr 7, 2016 at 14:52

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