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On the Measurement of Segregation

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Author Info

  • Federico Echenique

    (California Institute of Technology)

  • Roland G. Fryer Jr.

    (Harvard University Society of Fellows, & NBER)

Abstract

This paper develops a measure of segregation based on two premises: (1) a measure of segregation should disaggregate to the level of individuals, and (2) an individual is more segregated the more segregated are the agents with whom she interacts. Developing three desirable axioms that any segregation measure should satisfy, we prove that one and only one segregation index satisfies our three axioms, and the two aims mentioned above; which we coin the Spectral Segregation Index. We apply the index to two well-studied social phenomena: residential and school segregation. We calculate the extent of residential segregation across major US cities using data from the 2000 US Census. The correlation between the Spectral index and the commonly- used dissimilarity index is .42. Using detailed data on friendship networks, available in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we calculate the prevalence of within-school racial segregation. The results suggests that the percent of minority students within a school, commonly used as a substitute for a measure of in-school segregation, is a poor proxy for social interactions.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/lab/papers/0503/0503006.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Labor and Demography with number 0503006.

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Length: 67 pages
Date of creation: 31 Mar 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0503006

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 67
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: segregation; networks; social interactions; school segregation; residential segregation;

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References

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  1. Jan K. Brueckner & Oleg Smirnov, 2004. "Workings of the Melting Pot: Social Networks and the Evolution of Population Attributes," CESifo Working Paper Series 1320, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Volij, Oscar & Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio, 2004. "The Measurment of Intellectual Influence," Staff General Research Papers 10797, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Frankel, David M. & Volij, Oscar, 2010. "Measuring Segregation," Staff General Research Papers 32130, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-90, June.
  5. Lawrence F. Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Moving To Opportunity In Boston: Early Results Of A Randomized Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654, May.
  6. Anne C. Case & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, 01.
  8. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S95-S126, December.
  9. Hutchens, Robert, 2001. "Numerical measures of segregation: desirable properties and their implications," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 13-29, July.
  10. Cutler, David M & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-72, August.
  11. Jonathan Guryan, 2004. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 919-943, September.
  12. Cutler, David & Vigdor, Jacob & Glaeser, Edward, 1999. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," Scholarly Articles 2770033, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805, August.
  14. Philipson Tomas, 1993. "Social Welfare and Measurement of Segregation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 322-334, August.
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