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What drives racial segregation? New evidence using Census microdata

  • Bayer, Patrick
  • McMillan, Robert
  • Rueben, Kim S.

This paper sheds new light on the forces that drive residential segregation on the basis of race, assessing the extent to which across-race differences in other household characteristics can explain a significant portion of observed racial segregation. The central contribution of the analysis is to provide a transparent new measurement framework for understanding segregation patterns. This framework allows researchers to characterize patterns of segregation, to decompose them in meaningful ways, and to carry out partial equilibrium counterfactuals that illuminate the contributions of a variety of non-race characteristics in driving segregation. We illustrate our approach using restricted micro-Census data from the San Francisco Bay Area that provide a rich joint distribution of household and neighborhood characteristics not previously available to the research community. In contrast to findings in the prior literature, our analysis indicates that individual household characteristics can explain a considerable fraction of segregation by race, explaining almost 95% of segregation for Hispanic, over 50% for Asian, and 30% for White and Black households.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 56 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 (November)
Pages: 514-535

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:56:y:2004:i:3:p:514-535
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  1. Miller, Vincent P. & Quigley, John M., 1990. "Segregation by Racial and Demographic Group: Evidence from the San Francisco Bay Area," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt1839w13f, University of California Transportation Center.
  2. Patrick Bajari & Matthew E. Kahn, . "Why Do Blacks Live in The Cities and Whites Live in the Suburbs?," Working Papers 00007, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  3. Chambers, Daniel N., 1992. "The racial housing price differential and racially transitional neighborhoods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 214-232, September.
  4. repec:oup:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:1:p:123-50 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. King, A Thomas & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1973. "Racial Discrimination, Segregation, and the Price of Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 590-606, May-June.
  6. George J. Borjas, 1997. "To Ghetto or Not to Ghetto: Ethnicity and Residential Segregation," NBER Working Papers 6176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Harsman, Bjorn & Quigley, John M., 1993. "The Spatial Segregation of Ethnic and Demographic Groups: Comparative Evidence from Stockholm and San Francisco," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt910306b7, University of California Transportation Center.
  8. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:1019-1055 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:4:p:1533-1575 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan & Kim Rueben, 2004. "Residential Segregation in General Equilibrium," Working Papers 885, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  11. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 1997. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," NBER Working Papers 5881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Schafer, Robert, 1979. "Racial discrimination in the Boston housing market," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 176-196, April.
  13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:2:p:607-654 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-90, June.
  15. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R. & Scafidi, Benjamin, 2002. "Black Self-Segregation as a Cause of Housing Segregation: Evidence from the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 366-390, March.
  16. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-91, October.
  17. Gabriel, Stuart A & Rosenthal, Stuart S, 1989. "Household Location and Race: Estimates of Multinomial Logit Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(2), pages 240-49, May.
  18. John Yinger, 1978. "The Black-White Price Differential in Housing: Some Further Evidence," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 54(2), pages 187-206.
  19. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
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