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Tipping and the Dynamics of Segregation

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  • David Card
  • Alexandre Mas
  • Jesse Rothstein

Abstract

Schelling ("Dynamic Models of Segregation," Journal of Mathematical Sociology 1 (1971), 143–186) showed that extreme segregation can arise from social interactions in white preferences: once the minority share in a neighborhood exceeds a "tipping point," all the whites leave. We use regression discontinuity methods and Census tract data from 1970 through 2000 to test for discontinuities in the dynamics of neighborhood racial composition. We find strong evidence that white population flows exhibit tipping-like behavior in most cities, with a distribution of tipping points ranging from 5% to 20% minority share. Tipping is prevalent both in the suburbs and near existing minority enclaves. In contrast to white population flows, there is little evidence of nonlinearities in rents or housing prices around the tipping point. Tipping points are higher in cities where whites have more tolerant racial attitudes.

Suggested Citation

  • David Card & Alexandre Mas & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "Tipping and the Dynamics of Segregation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 177-218.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:1:p:177-218.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2008.123.1.177
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    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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