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Inequality and Segregation

  • Rajiv Sethi
  • Rohini Somanathan

This paper explores the manner in which race and income interact to determine patterns of residential location in metropolitan areas. We use a framework in which individuals care about both the level of affluence and the racial composition of their communities, and in which there are differences in income both within and between groups. Three main findings emerge. First, conditional on income, black households experience lower neighborhood quality relative to whites at any stable equilibrium. Second, extreme levels of segregation can be stable when racial income disparities are either large or negligible, but unstable in some intermediate range. Third, there exist multiple stable equilibria with very different levels of segregation when racial income disparities are sufficiently small. These results hold even when preferences are pro-integrationist, in the sense that racially mixed neighborhoods within a certain range are strictly preferred by all households to homogenous neighborhoods of either type.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 112 (2004)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1296-1321

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:112:y:2004:i:6:p:1296-1321
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  1. Steven N. Durlauf, 1992. "A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 4056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nancy A. Denton & Douglas S. Massey, . "Residential Segregation of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians by Socioeconomic Status and Generation," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 88-2, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. de Bartolome, Charles A M, 1990. "Equilibrium and Inefficiency in a Community Model with Peer Group Effects," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 110-33, February.
  5. Kern, Clifford R., 1981. "Racial prejudice and residential segregation: The Yinger model revisited," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 164-172, September.
  6. Bond, Eric W. & Coulson, N. Edward, 1989. "Externalities, filtering, and neighborhood change," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 231-249, September.
  7. Shelly Lundberg & Richard Startz, 1998. "Race, Information, and Segregation," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0047, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  8. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 1999. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 455-506, June.
  9. Roland Benabou, 1991. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," NBER Technical Working Papers 0113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. BĂ©nabou, Roland, 1993. "Heterogeneity, Stratification and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 815, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  12. Denton, N.A. & Massey, D.S., 1988. "Residential Segregation Of Blacks, Hispanics, And Asians By Socioeconomic Status And Generation," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-2, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  13. Glenn C. Loury, 1976. "A Dynamic Theory of Racial Income Differences," Discussion Papers 225, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-58, August.
  15. Rajiv Sethi & Rohini Somanathan, 2001. "Racial Income Disparities and the Measurement of Segregation," Urban/Regional 0107001, EconWPA.
  16. Epple, Dennis & Platt, Glenn J., 1998. "Equilibrium and Local Redistribution in an Urban Economy when Households Differ in both Preferences and Incomes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 23-51, January.
  17. Yinger, John, 1976. "Racial prejudice and racial residential segregation in an urban model," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 383-396, October.
  18. 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.
  19. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1996. "Income Distribution, Communities, and the Quality of Public Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 135-64, February.
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