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Separate When Equal? Racial Inequality and Residential Segregation

  • Bayer, Patrick

    (Yale U)

  • Fang, Hanming
  • McMillan, Robert

    (U of Toronto)

Standard intuition suggests that residential segregation in the United States will decline when racial inequality narrows. In this paper, we hypothesize that the opposite will occur. We note that middle-class black neighborhoods are in short supply in many U.S. metropolitan areas, forcing highly educated blacks either to live in predominantly white high-socioeconomic status (SES) neighborhoods or in more black lower-SES neighborhoods. Increases in the proportion of highly educated blacks in a metropolitan area may then lead to the emergence of new middle-class black neighborhoods, causing increases in residential segregation. We formalize this mechanism using a simple model of residential choice that permits endogenous neighborhood formation. Our primary empirical analysis, based on across-MSA evidence from the 2000 Census, indicates that this mechanism does indeed operate: as the proportion of highly educated blacks in an MSA increases, so the segregation of blacks at all education levels increases. Time-series evidence provides additional support for the hypothesis, showing that an increase in black educational attainment in a metropolitan area between 1990-2000 significantly increases segregation. Our analysis has important implications for the evolution of both residential segregation and racial socioeconomic inequality, drawing attention to a negative feedback loop likely to inhibit reductions in segregation and racial inequality over time.

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Paper provided by Yale University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 9.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:9
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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 J. Bayer & Robert McMillan & Kim Rueben, 2004. "What Drives Racial Segregation? New Evidence Using Census Microdata," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm409, Yale School of Management.
  3. Durlauf, S.N., 1992. "A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," Papers 47, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
  4. Coate, S. & Loury, G.C., 1992. "Will Affirmative Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Papers 3, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  5. Susan E. Mayer, 2000. "Income Inequality: Economic Segregation and Children's Educational Attainment," Working Papers 0026, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  6. 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.
  7. Rajiv Sethi & Rohini Somanathan, 2001. "Inequality and Segregation," Microeconomics 0108005, EconWPA.
  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. Harsman Bjorn & Quigley John M., 1995. "The Spatial Segregation of Ethnic and Demographic Groups: Comparative Evidence from Stockholm and San Francisco," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-16, January.
  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. George C. Galster, 1982. "Black and White Preferences for Neighborhood Racial Composition," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 10(1), pages 39-66.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Berry, Steven & Waldfogel, Joel, 2005. "Product Quality and Market Size," Working Papers 1, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  15. Rajiv Sethi & Rohini Somanathan, 2001. "Racial Income Disparities and the Measurement of Segregation," Urban/Regional 0107001, EconWPA.
  16. Shelly Lundberg & Richard Startz, 1998. "Race, Information, and Segregation," Working Papers 0047, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  17. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  18. Vigdor, Jacob L., 2003. "Residential segregation and preference misalignment," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 587-609, November.
  19. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan & Kim Rueben, 2005. "Residential Segregation in General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 11095, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Benabou, R., 1991. "Location, Education, and Production," Working papers 582, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  21. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan, 2005. "Racial Sorting and Neighborhood Quality," NBER Working Papers 11813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Ross, Stephen L., 1998. "Racial Differences in Residential and Job Mobility: Evidence Concerning the Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 112-135, January.
  23. Weinberg, Bruce A., 2000. "Black Residential Centralization and the Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 110-134, July.
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