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On the Measurement of Segregation

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  • Federico Echenique
  • Roland G. Fryer, Jr.

Abstract

This paper develops a measure of segregation based on two premises: (1) a measure of segregation should disaggregate to the level of individuals, and (2) an individual is more segregated the more segregated are the agents with whom she interacts. Developing three desirable axioms that any segregation measure should satisfy, we prove that one and only one segregation index satisfies our three axioms, and the two aims mentioned above; which we coin the Spectral Segregation Index. We apply the index to two well-studied social phenomena: residential and school segregation. We calculate the extent of residential segregation across major US cities using data from the 2000 US Census. The correlation between the Spectral index and the commonly-used dissimilarity index is .42. Using detailed data on friendship networks, available in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we calculate the prevalence of within-school racial segregation. The results suggests that the percent of minority students within a school, commonly used as a substitute for a measure of in-school segregation, is a poor proxy for social interactions.

Suggested Citation

  • Federico Echenique & Roland G. Fryer, Jr., 2005. "On the Measurement of Segregation," NBER Working Papers 11258, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11258
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jacob Vigdor & Jens Ludwig, 2007. "Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 12988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Fagiolo, Giorgio & Valente, Marco & Vriend, Nicolaas J., 2007. "Segregation in networks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(3-4), pages 316-336.
    3. Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark & Melissa McInerney, 2008. "Changes in Workplace Segregation in the United States between 1990 and 2000: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data," NBER Chapters, in: The Analysis of Firms and Employees: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, pages 163-195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Tugce, Cuhadaroglu, 2013. "My Group Beats Your Group: Evaluating Non-Income Inequalities," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-49, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    5. Frankel, David M. & Volij, Oscar, 2008. "An Axiomatization of the Multigroup Atkinson Segregation Indices," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12902, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    6. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2008. "Workplace Segregation in the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Skill," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 459-477, August.
    7. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Paul Torelli, 2005. "An Empirical Analysis of 'Acting White'," NBER Working Papers 11334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Stephen Gibbons & Shqiponja Telhaj, 2007. "Are Schools Drifting Apart? Intake Stratification in English Secondary Schools," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(7), pages 1281-1305, June.
    9. Elizabeth Ananat & Shihe Fu & Stephen L. Ross, 2020. "Agglomeration Economies and Race Specific Spillovers," Working Papers 2020-069, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    10. Ildefonso Méndez Martínez & Antonio Villar Notario & Carmen Herrero Blanco, 2013. "Analysis of group performance with categorical data when agents are heterogeneous: The case of compulsory education in the OECD," Working Papers. Serie AD 2013-08, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    11. Cutler, David M. & Glaeser, Edward L. & Vigdor, Jacob L., 2008. "When are ghettos bad? Lessons from immigrant segregation in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 759-774, May.
    12. Carmen Herrero & Antonio Villar, 2018. "The Balanced Worth: A Procedure to Evaluate Performance in Terms of Ordered Attributes," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 1279-1300, December.
    13. Olof Åslund & Oskar Nordström Skans, 2009. "How to measure segregation conditional on the distribution of covariates," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(4), pages 971-981, October.
    14. Fryer Jr., Roland G. & Torelli, Paul, 2010. "An empirical analysis of 'acting white'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(5-6), pages 380-396, June.
    15. Giorgio Fagiolo & Marco Valente & Nicolaas J. Vriend, 2009. "A Dynamic Model of Segregation in Small-World Networks," Lecture Notes in Economics and Mathematical Systems, in: Ahmad K. Naimzada & Silvana Stefani & Anna Torriero (ed.), Networks, Topology and Dynamics, pages 111-126, Springer.
    16. Hannah KM Kling, 2020. "Modelling and Measuring Gains from Labour Market Desegregation in Northern Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 51(1), pages 173-187.
    17. Byron F. Lutz, 2005. "Post Brown vs. the Board of Education: the effects of the end of court-ordered desegregation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-64, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    18. Tugce Cuhadaroglu, 2013. "My Group Beats Your Group: Evaluating Non-Income Inequalities," Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance 201308, School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews.
    19. Fairchild, Gregory B., 2008. "Residential segregation influences on the likelihood of black and white self-employment," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 46-74, January.
    20. Davidoff, Thomas, 2005. "Income sorting: Measurement and decomposition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 289-303, September.
    21. Federico Echenique & Roland G. Fryer Jr & Alex Kaufman, 2006. "Is School Segregation Good or Bad?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 265-269, May.
    22. Gregory B. Fairchild, 2009. "Residential Segregation Influences on the Likelihood of Ethnic Self–Employment," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 33(2), pages 373-395, March.
    23. Åslund, Olof & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2005. "Measuring conditional segregation: methods and empirical examples," Working Paper Series 2005:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

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    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • C0 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General

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