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Racial Sorting and Neighborhood Quality

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  • Patrick Bayer
  • Robert McMillan

Abstract

In cities throughout the United States, blacks tend to live in significantly poorer and lower-amenity neighborhoods than whites. An obvious first-order explanation for this is that an individual%u2019%u2019s race is strongly correlated with socioeconomic status (SES), and poorer households can only afford lower quality neighborhoods. This paper conjectures that another explanation may be as important. The limited supply of high-SES black neighborhoods in most U.S. metropolitan areas means that neighborhood race and neighborhood quality are explicitly bundled together. In the presence of any form of segregating preferences, this bundling raises the implicit price of neighborhood amenities for blacks relative to whites, prompting our conjecture -- that racial differences in the consumption of neighborhood amenities are significantly exacerbated by sorting on the basis of race, given the small numbers of blacks and especially high-SES blacks in many cities. To provide evidence on this conjecture, we estimate an equilibrium sorting model with detailed restricted Census microdata and use it to carry out informative counterfactual simulations. Results from these indicate that racial sorting explains a substantial portion of the gap between whites and blacks in the consumption of a wide range of neighborhood amenities -- in fact, as much as underlying socioeconomic differences across race. We also show that the adverse effects of racial sorting for blacks are fundamentally related to the small proportion of blacks in the U.S. metropolitan population. These results emphasize the significant role of racial sorting in the inter-generational persistence of racial differences in education, income, and wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan, 2005. "Racial Sorting and Neighborhood Quality," NBER Working Papers 11813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11813
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    Cited by:

    1. Eid, Jean & Overman, Henry G. & Puga, Diego & Turner, Matthew A., 2008. "Fat city: Questioning the relationship between urban sprawl and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 385-404, March.
    2. Jean Eid & Henry Overman & Diego Puga & Matthew Turner, 2006. "Fat City: The Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Obesity," CEP Discussion Papers dp0758, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. David C. Maré & Steven Stillman, 2010. "The Impact of Immigration on the Geographic Mobility of New Zealanders," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 86(273), pages 247-259, June.
    4. Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Ross, Stephen L., 2015. "Change and Persistence in the Economic Status of Neighborhoods and Cities," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.),Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 1047-1120, Elsevier.
    5. Alexandrina-Ioana Scorbureanu & IOn Scorbureanu, 2012. "Neighborhood quality determinants. Empirical evidence from the American Housing Survey," Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research, Pro Global Science Association, vol. 3(1), pages 153-161, July.
    6. Mizala, Alejandra & Urquiola, Miguel, 2013. "School markets: The impact of information approximating schools' effectiveness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 313-335.
    7. Ye, Victor Yifan & Becker, Charles M., 2018. "The Z-axis: Elevation gradient effects in Urban America," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 312-329.
    8. Bayer, Patrick & Fang, Hanming & McMillan, Robert, 2014. "Separate when equal? Racial inequality and residential segregation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 32-48.
    9. Carlos Avenancio-León & Troup Howard, 2020. "The Assessment Gap: Racial Inequalities in Property Taxation," Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers 34, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    10. Geyer, Judy, 2017. "Housing demand and neighborhood choice with housing vouchers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 48-61.
    11. Mattia Makovec & Alejandra Mizala & Andrés Barrera, 2010. "Parental decisions in a choice based school system: Analyzing the transition between primary and secondary school," Documentos de Trabajo 269, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    12. Joo, Myungkook, 2010. "Long-term effects of Head Start on academic and school outcomes of children in persistent poverty: Girls vs. boys," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 807-814, June.
    13. Dionissi Aliprantis & Daniel R. Carroll & Eric R. Young, 2019. "What Explains Neighborhood Sorting by Income and Race?," Working Papers 201808R, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    14. Alejandra Mizala & Miguel Urquiola, 2007. "Parental choice and school markets: The impact of information approximating school effectiveness," Documentos de Trabajo 239, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    15. Christopher R. Knittel & Konstantinos Metaxoglou, 2008. "Estimation of Random Coefficient Demand Models: Challenges, Difficulties and Warnings," NBER Working Papers 14080, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. J. Sebastian Leguizamon & Susane Leguizamon, 2017. "Disentangling the effect of tolerance on housing values: how levels of human capital and race alter this link within the metropolitan area," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 59(2), pages 371-392, September.

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    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • R0 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General
    • R2 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis

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