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Race, Segregation, and Postal Employment: New Evidence on Spatial Mismatch

  • Leah Platt Boustan
  • Robert A. Margo

The spatial mismatch hypothesis posits that employment decentralization isolated urban blacks from work opportunities. This paper focuses on one large employer that has remained in the central city over the twentieth century - the U.S. Postal Service. We find that blacks substitute towards postal work as other employment opportunities leave the city circa 1960. The response is particularly strong in segregated areas, where black neighborhoods are clustered near the central business district. Furthermore, this pattern only holds for non-mail carriers, many of whom work in central processing facilities. More recently, the relationship between black postal employment and segregation has declined, suggesting that spatial mismatch has become less important over time.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13462.

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Date of creation: Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Urban Economics Volume 65, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 1–10
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13462
Note: DAE LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. 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.
  2. George J. Borjas, 1994. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human Capital Externalities," NBER Working Papers 4912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," NBER Working Papers 5163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David Card & Jesse Rothstein, 2006. "Racial Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 12078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Collins, William J. & Margo, Robert A., 2000. "Residential segregation and socioeconomic outcomes: When did ghettos go bad?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 239-243, November.
  6. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat, 2007. "The Wrong Side(s) of the Tracks Estimating the Causal Effects of Racial Segregation on City Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 13343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. William J. Collins, 2001. "Race, Roosevelt, and Wartime Production: Fair Employment in World War II Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 272-286, March.
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