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Empirics of Strategic Interdependence: The Case of the Racial Tipping Point

  • William Easterly

The Schelling model of a "tipping point" in racial segregation, in which whites flee a neighborhood once a threshold of nonwhites is reached, is a canonical model of strategic interdependence. The idea of "tipping" explaining segregation is widely accepted in the academic literature and popular media. I use census tract data for metropolitan areas of the US from 1970 to 2000 to test the predictions of the Schelling model and find that this particular model of strategic interaction largely fails the tests. There is more "white flight" out of neighborhoods with a high initial share of whites than out of more racially mixed neighborhoods

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15069.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Publication status: published as William Easterly, 2009. "Empirics of Strategic Interdependence: The Case of the Racial Tipping Point," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 9(1).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15069
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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. Bénabou, Roland, 1993. "Heterogeneity, Stratification and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 815, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Roland Benabou, 1991. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," NBER Technical Working Papers 0113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1999. "Are Whites Still "Fleeing"? Racial Patterns and Enrollment Shifts in Urban Public Schools, 1987-1996," NBER Working Papers 7290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Steven N. Durlauf, 1992. "A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 4056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  7. David Card & Jesse Rothstein, 2005. "Racial Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap," Working Papers 879, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Charles T. Clotfelter, 2001. "Are Whites Still Fleeing? Racial Patterns and Enrollment Shifts in Urban Public Schools, 1987-1996," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(2), pages 199-221.
  9. Aaronson, Daniel, 2001. "Neighborhood Dynamics," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 1-31, January.
  10. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "Tipping and the Dynamics of Segregation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 177-218, 02.
  11. George Galster, 1988. "Residential segregation in American cities: A contrary review," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 93-112, May.
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