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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
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:9
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  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. Rajiv Sethi & Rohini Somanathan, 2004. "Inequality and Segregation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1296-1321, December.
  14. 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.
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  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan & Kim Rueben, 2004. "Residential Segregation in General Equilibrium," Working Papers 885, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
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  23. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat, 2011. "The Wrong Side(s) of the Tracks: The Causal Effects of Racial Segregation on Urban Poverty and Inequality," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 34-66, April.
  24. John F. Kain, 1968. "Housing Segregation, Negro Employment, and Metropolitan Decentralization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 175-197.
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  28. Berry, Steven & Waldfogel, Joel, 2005. "Product Quality and Market Size," Working Papers 1, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  29. 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.
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