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On the Measurement of Segregation

Author

Listed:
  • Federico Echenique

    (California Institute of Technology)

  • Roland G. Fryer Jr.

    (Harvard University Society of Fellows, & NBER)

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," Labor and Demography 0503006, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0503006
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 67
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Oscar Volij & David Frankel, 2004. "Measuring Segregation," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 210, Econometric Society.
    2. Jan K. Brueckner & Oleg Smirnov, 2004. "Workings of the Melting Pot: Social Networks and the Evolution of Population Attributes," CESifo Working Paper Series 1320, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805.
    4. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2004. "The Measurement of Intellectual Influence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 963-977, May.
    5. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 95-126, December.
    6. Jonathan Guryan, 2004. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 919-943, September.
    7. 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.
    8. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, January.
    9. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-390, June.
    10. Hutchens, Robert, 2001. "Numerical measures of segregation: desirable properties and their implications," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 13-29, July.
    11. Lawrence F. Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Moving to Opportunity in Boston: Early Results of a Randomized Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654.
    12. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    13. Philipson Tomas, 1993. "Social Welfare and Measurement of Segregation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 322-334, August.
    14. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-872.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Jacob Vigdor & Jens Ludwig, 2007. "Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 12988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fagiolo, Giorgio & Valente, Marco & Vriend, Nicolaas J., 2007. "Segregation in networks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(3-4), pages 316-336.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.).
    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. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Paul Torelli, 2005. "An Empirical Analysis of 'Acting White'," NBER Working Papers 11334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Giorgio Fagiolo & Marco Valente & Nicolaas J. Vriend, 2007. "Dynamic Models of Segregation in Small-World Networks," LEM Papers Series 2007/09, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    11. 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.
    12. Davidoff, Thomas, 2005. "Income sorting: Measurement and decomposition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 289-303, September.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    segregation; networks; social interactions; school segregation; residential segregation;

    JEL classification:

    • C0 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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