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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I (2001)

Chapter: 13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

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Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

13
Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Douglas S.Massey

Social scientists have long studied patterns of racial and ethnic segregation because of the close connection between a group’s spatial position in society and its socioeconomic well-being. Opportunities and resources are unevenly distributed in space; some neighborhoods have safer streets, higher home values, better services, more effective schools, and more supportive peer environments than others. As people and families improve their socioeconomic circumstances, they generally move to gain access to these benefits. In doing so, they seek to convert past socioeconomic achievements into improved residential circumstances, yielding tangible immediate benefits and enhancing future prospects for social mobility by providing greater access to residentially determined resources.

Throughout U.S. history, racial and ethnic groups arriving in the United States for the first time have settled in enclaves located close to an urban core, in areas of mixed land use, old housing, poor services, and low or decreasing socioeconomic status. As group members build up time in the city, however, and as their socioeconomic status rises, they have tended to move out of these enclaves into areas that offer more amenities and improved conditions—areas in which majority members are more prevalent—leading to their progressive spatial assimilation into society.

The twin processes of immigrant settlement, on the one hand, and spatial assimilation, on the other, combine to yield a diversity of segregation patterns across groups and times, depending on the particular histo-

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

ries of in-migration and socioeconomic mobility involved (Massey, 1985). Groups experiencing recent rapid in-migration and slow socioeconomic mobility tend to display relatively high levels of segregation, whereas those with rapid rates of economic mobility and slow rates of in-migration tend to be more integrated.

When avenues of spatial assimilation are systematically blocked by prejudice and discrimination, however, residential segregation increases and persists over time. New minorities arrive in the city and settle within enclaves, but their subsequent spatial mobility is stymied, and ethnic concentrations increase until the enclaves are filled, whereupon group members are forced into adjacent areas, thus expanding the boundaries of the enclave (Duncan and Duncan, 1957). In the United States, most immigrant groups experienced relatively few residential barriers, so levels of ethnic segregation historically were not very high. Using a standard segregation index (the index of dissimilarity), which varies from 0 to 100, European ethnic groups rarely had indexes of more than 60 (Massey, 1985; Massey and Denton, 1992).

Blacks, in contrast, traditionally experienced severe prejudice and discrimination in urban housing markets. As they moved into urban areas from 1900 to 1960, therefore, their segregation indices rose to unprecedented heights, compared with earlier times and groups. By mid-century, segregation indices exceeded 60 virtually everywhere; and in the largest Black communities they often reached 80 or more (Massey and Denton, 1989b, 1993).

Such high indices of residential segregation imply a restriction of opportunity for Blacks compared with other groups. Discriminatory barriers in urban housing markets mean individual Black citizens are less able to capitalize on their hard-won attainments and achieve desirable residential locations. Compared with Whites of similar social status, Blacks tend to live in systematically disadvantaged neighborhoods, even within suburbs (Schneider and Logan, 1982; Massey et al., 1987; Massey and Fong, 1990; Massey and Denton, 1992).

In a very real way, barriers to spatial mobility are barriers to social mobility; and a racially segregated society cannot logically claim to be “color blind.” The way a group is spatially incorporated into society is as important to its socioeconomic well-being as the manner in which it is incorporated into the labor force. It is important, therefore, that levels and trends in residential segregation be documented so that this variable can be incorporated fully into research and theorizing about the causes of urban poverty. To accomplish this, presented here is an overview and interpretation of historical trends in the residential segregation of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians.

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

LONG-TERM TRENDS IN BLACK SEGREGATION

Massey and Hajnal (1995) examined historical trends in Black segregation at the state, county, municipal, and neighborhood levels. Their interpretation focused on two specific time periods—pre-World War II; 1900 to 1940; and postwar, from 1950 to 1990. Table 13–1 presents their data1 on the geographic structure of Black segregation and racial isolation during the earlier period. Because of data limitations, segregation or isolation at the municipal level during this early period could not be measured.

As Table 13–1 shows, Blacks and Whites were distinctly segregated from one another across state boundaries early in the twentieth century. In 1900, for example, 64 percent of all Blacks would have had to move to a different state to achieve an even distribution across state lines, and most Blacks lived in a state that was 36 percent Black. These figures simply state the obvious, that in 1900, some 90 percent of Blacks lived in a handful of southern states, which contained only 25 percent of all Whites (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1979).

The isolation index shows that in the South, most Blacks lived in rural counties that were approximately 45 percent Black, yielding a high degree of segregation and racial isolation at the county level as well. The dissimilarity index for 1900 reveals that nearly 70 percent of all Blacks would have had to shift their county of residence to achieve an even racial distribution across county lines.

At the beginning of this century, for Blacks, the typical residential setting was southern and rural; for Whites it was northern and urban. Under conditions of high state- and county-level segregation, race relations remained largely a regional problem centered in the South. Successive waves of Black migration out of the rural South into the urban North transformed the geographic structure of Black segregation during the twentieth century, however, ending the regional isolation and rural confinement of Blacks. From 1900 to 1940, the index of Black-White dissimilarity fell from 64 to 52 at the state level and from 69 to 59 at the county level. Black isolation likewise dropped from 36 to 24 within states, and from 45 to 32 within counties.

The movement of Blacks out of rural areas, however, was accompa-

1  

Residential segregation was measured using the index of dissimilarity, and racial isolation was measured using the P* index (Massey and Denton, 1988). The index of dissimilarity is the relative number of Blacks who would have to change geographic units so that an even Black-White spatial distribution could be achieved. The P* index is the percentage of Blacks residing in the geographic unit of the average Black person.

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

TABLE 13–1 Indices of Black-White Segregation Computed at Three Geographic Levels, 1900 to 1940

 

Years

 

1900

1910

1920

1930

1940

Between states

 

Dissimilarity

64

65

61

54

52

Isolation

36

34

30

25

24

Between counties

 

Dissimilarity

69

70

66

60

59

Isolation

45

43

38

33

32

Between wards

 

Dissimilarity

 

Boston

64

65

78

79

Buffalo

63

72

81

82

Chicago

67

76

85

83

Cincinnati

47

57

73

77

Cleveland

61

70

85

86

Philadelphia

46

48

63

68

Pittsburgh

44

43

61

65

St. Louis

54

62

82

84

Average

56

62

76

78

Isolation

 

Boston

06

11

15

19

Buffalo

04

06

10

24

Chicago

10

15

38

70

Cincinnati

10

13

27

45

Cleveland

08

08

24

51

Philadelphia

16

16

21

27

Pittsburgh

12

12

17

27

St. Louis

13

17

30

47

Average

10

13

23

39

 

SOURCE: Massey and Hajnal (1995).

nied by their progressive segregation within cities. Although we lack indices of Black-White dissimilarity for 1900, research has demonstrated that Blacks were not particularly segregated in northern cities during the nineteenth century. Ward-level dissimilarity for Blacks in 11 northern cities circa 1860 had average indices of approximately 46 (Massey and Denton, 1993).

By 1910, however, the eight cities listed in Table 13–1 had an average index of 56, and the level of Black-White dissimilarity increased sharply

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

during each decade after 1910, suggesting the progressive formation of Black ghettos in cities throughout the nation. As Lieberson (1980) has shown, the growth of Black populations in urban areas triggered the imposition of higher levels of racial segregation within cities. Before the U.S. Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 1916, many U.S. cities actually passed apartheid laws establishing separate Black and White districts. Thereafter, however, segregation was achieved by less formal means (see Massey and Denton, 1993:26–42). Whatever the mechanism, the end result was a rapid increase in Black residential segregation, with the neighborhood segregation index rising from 56 to 78 between 1910 and 1940, a remarkable increase of 39 percent in just three decades.

The combination of growing urban Black populations and higher levels of segregation could only produce one possible outcome—higher levels of Black isolation. In 1900, the relatively small number of urban Blacks and the rather low level of Black-White segregation resulted in a low degree of racial isolation within neighborhoods. Among the eight cities shown in Table 13–1, the average isolation index was just 10; the typical urban Black resident lived in a ward that was 90 percent non-Black. Moreover, the index of isolation did not vary substantially from city to city. Urban Blacks early in the century were quite likely to know and interact socially with Whites (Massey and Denton, 1993:19–26). Indeed, on average they were more likely to share a neighborhood with a White person than with a Black person.

By 1930, however, the geographic structure of segregation had changed dramatically, shifting from state and county levels to the neighborhood level. The average isolation index was now 39 in neighborhoods, indicating that most Black residents in the cities under study lived in a ward that was almost 40 percent Black. In some cities, the degree of racial isolation reached truly extreme levels. The transformation was most dramatic in Chicago, where the isolation index went from 10 in 1900 to 70 in 1930, by which time, moreover, the dissimilarity index had reached 85. Similar conditions of intense Black segregation occurred in Cleveland, which by 1930 displayed a dissimilarity index of 85 and an isolation index of 51.

During the first half of the twentieth century, therefore, Black segregation was characterized by countervailing trends at opposite ends of the American geographic hierarchy. As Blacks and Whites became more integrated across states and counties, and as the regional isolation of Blacks declined, progressively higher levels of segregation were imposed on Blacks within cities. The regional integration of Blacks was accompanied by neighborhood segregation in the creation of urban ghettos that caused higher indices of segregation at the neighborhood level. In the course of this shift, however, one outcome remained constant: White

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

exposure to Blacks was minimized. The only thing that changed was the geographic level at which the most extreme indices of segregation occurred.

Table 13–2 shows trends in Black segregation and racial isolation during the decades following World War II. In addition to indices computed at the state, county, and neighborhood levels, data permit a series of measures to be computed at the city level. These computations are based on cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants and measure the degree to which Blacks and Whites reside in separate municipalities.

From 1950 to 1970, the move toward integration at the state and county levels continued as Black out-migration from the South accelerated after World War II. At the state level, the Black-White segregation index dropped from 42 in 1950 to 28 in 1970, and at the county level from 52 to 47. Over the same period, the degree of Black isolation decreased from 20 to 16 at the state level, and from 27 to 23 in counties. As a result, from 1900 to 1970, macro-level segregation largely disappeared from the United States. Indices of Black segregation and racial isolation at the state level were cut in half, with segregation going from 64 to 28 and isolation from 36 to 16. Through a process of out-migration and regional redistribution, Blacks and Whites came to live together in states and counties throughout the nation. By 1970, race relations were no longer a regional problem peculiar to the South; race relations became a salient issue of national scope and importance.

The integration of Blacks at the state and county levels culminated around 1970, when Black migration from the South waned and then reversed, causing state-level indices to stabilize. After 1970, the index of Black-White dissimilarity at state levels remained fixed at 28, while Black isolation held virtually constant at 16 or 17. At the county level, indices of Black-White dissimilarity varied narrowly from 46 to 48, while the degree of Black isolation increased slightly from 23 to 26.

At the neighborhood level, however, Black segregation continued to increase from 1950 to 1970, although at a decelerating pace that reflected the high level of racial segregation already achieved. The average dissimilarity index for the 12 metropolitan areas shown in Table 13–2 stood at 77 in 1950, rising to 81 in 1960, and 83 in 1970. Throughout this period, the average index of Black isolation stood at 67, indicating that most Black urban dwellers lived in a census tract2 that was two-thirds Black. Thus the

2  

Tracts are relatively small, homogenous spatial units of 3,000 to 6,000 people defined by the U.S. Bureau of the Census to approximate urban “neighborhoods” (White, 1987). Although the Census Bureau endeavors to maintain constant boundaries between censuses, population shifts and physical changes invariably require reclassifications that yield small inconsistencies over time. These changes, however, are unlikely to affect broad trends and patterns.

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

TABLE 13–2 Indices of Black-White Segregation Computed at Four Geographic Levels, 1950 to 1990

 

Years

 

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

Between states

 

Dissimilarity

42

34

28

28

28

Isolation

20

18

16

17

17

Between counties

 

Dissimilarity

52

49

47

48

46

Isolation

27

24

23

26

26

Between cities (>25,000)

 

Dissimilarity

35

35

40

49

49

Isolation

19

24

29

35

35

Between tracts

 

Dissimilarity

 

Chicago

88

90

92

88

86

Cleveland

87

90

91

88

85

Dayton

87

90

87

78

75

Detroit

83

87

88

87

88

Greensboro

59

67

65

56

60

Houston

71

79

78

70

67

Indianapolis

77

80

82

76

74

Milwaukee

86

86

91

84

83

Philadelphia

71

76

80

79

77

Pittsburgh

69

75

75

73

71

San Diego

65

69

83

64

58

Average

77

81

83

77

75

Isolation

 

Chicago

84

86

83

84

Cleveland

80

82

80

81

Dayton

78

73

65

62

Detroit

76

77

82

Greensboro

64

56

50

56

Houston

73

66

59

64

Indianapolis

65

62

61

Milwaukee

74

70

72

Philadelphia

68

70

72

Pittsburgh

47

54

54

53

San Diego

42

42

26

36

Average

67

67

63

66

 

SOURCE: Massey and Hajnal (1995).

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

geographic structure of segregation that emerged early in the century was fully formed and stable by 1970. Whites and Blacks were integrated at the state and county levels, but segregated at the neighborhood level. Of the 12 metropolitan areas shown in the table, 9 had tract-level dissimilarity indices in excess of 80 in 1970, and 8 had isolation indices of 66 or more. By the end of the Civil Rights era, the geographic isolation of urban Blacks, on the neighborhood level, was nearly complete. Although the number of cases examined here is small, the trends are consistent with those established by Massey and Denton (1987), based on a larger sample of metropolitan areas.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 theoretically put an end to housing discrimination; however, residential segregation proved to be remarkably persistent (Massey and Denton, 1993:186–216). Among the 12 cities shown in Table 13–2, the average segregation index fell slightly from 1970 to 1990, going from 83 to 75, but Black isolation indices hardly changed. Scanning trends among individual metropolitan areas, it is difficult to detect a consistent pattern toward residential integration between 1970 and 1990, although Frey and Farley (1994) report some movement toward integration in smaller metropolitan areas, particularly those containing small Black populations, military bases, universities, or large stocks of post-1970 housing.

Despite the relative stability of segregation achieved by 1970 at the state, county, and neighborhood levels, a remarkable change was occurring at the city level. From 1950 onward, Blacks and Whites were becoming more and more segregated across municipal boundaries. After 1950, Blacks and Whites not only tended to live in different neighborhoods; increasingly they lived in different municipalities as well. After 1950, in other words, Blacks and Whites came to reside in wholly different towns and cities. From 1950 to 1980, the index of Black-White dissimilarity increased from 35 to 49 at the municipal level, a change of 40 percent in just 30 years, a shift that was remarkably similar to the rapid change observed in neighborhood-level segregation during the early period of ghetto formation. Black isolation went from an index of 19 to 35 at the municipal level, an increase of 84 percent. By the end of the 1970s, the average Black urban dweller lived in a municipality that was 35 percent Black; and one-half of all urban Blacks would have had to exchange places with Whites to achieve an even municipal distribution.

The emergence of significant municipal-level segregation in the United States reflects demographic trends that occurred in all parts of the urban hierarchy—in nonmetropolitan areas as well as central cities and suburbs. In 1950, there were no predominantly Black central cities in the United States. Among cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, none had a Black percentage in excess of 50 percent. By 1990, however, 14 cities

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

were at least 50 percent Black, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Gary, Newark, New Orleans, and Washington; together they were home to 11 percent of all Blacks in the United States. In addition, another 11 cities were approaching Black majorities by 1990, with percentages ranging from 40 percent to 50 percent, including Cleveland, St. Louis, and Oakland. Among cities with populations of 25,000 or more, only two municipalities in the entire United States were more than 50 percent Black in 1950, both in the South; but by 1990 the number had increased to 40. Some of these cities—such as Prichard, Alabama; Kinston, North Carolina; and Vicksburg, Mississippi—were located in nonmetropolitan areas of the South. Others—such as Maywood, Illinois; Highland Park, Michigan; and Inglewood, California—were suburbs of large central cities in the North and West.

RECENT TRENDS IN BLACK SEGREGATION

Table 13–3 shows indicators of Black residential segregation for the 30 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest Black populations. As in Tables 13–1 and 13–2, these data are used to evaluate racial segregation from two vantage points. The first three columns show trends in the indices of spatial separation between Blacks and Whites using the index of dissimilarity, and the next three columns show trends in indices of Black residential isolation. The indices for 1970 and 1980, from Massey and Denton (1987), are metropolitan areas based on 1970 boundaries. Indices for 1990, from Harrison and Weinberg (1992), are based on 1990 geographic definitions. White and Black Hispanics were excluded, by both sets of researchers, from their subject sets of Whites and Blacks, and both sets of researchers computed indices using tracts as units of analysis.

Among the northern metropolitan areas shown, there is little evidence of any trend toward Black residential integration. Black segregation indices averaged about 85 in 1970, 80 in 1980, and 78 in 1990, a decline of only 8 percent in 20 years. Dissimilarity indices more than 60 are generally considered high, whereas those between 30 and 60 are considered moderate (Kantrowitz, 1973). At the rate of change observed between 1970 and 1990, the average level of Black-White segregation in northern areas would not reach the lower limits of the high range until the year 2043. At the slower rate of change prevailing from 1970 to 1980, it would take until 2067. As of 1990, no large northern Black community approached even a moderate level of residential segregation.

Indeed, in most metropolitan areas, racial segregation remained very high throughout the 20-year period. Dissimilarity indices were essentially constant in seven metropolitan areas—Cincinnati, Detroit, Gary, New York, Newark, and Philadelphia; in seven others—Buffalo, Chicago,

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

TABLE 13–3 Trends in Black Segregation and Isolation in the 30 Metropolitan Areas with the Largest Black Populations, 1970 to 1990

 

Dissimilarity Indices

Isolation Indices

Metropolitan

1970a

1980a

1990b

1970a

1980a

1990b

Northern

 

Boston, MA

81.2

77.6

68.2

56.7

55.1

51.2

Buffalo, NY

87.0

79.4

81.8

71.2

63.5

68.1

Chicago, IL

91.9

87.8

85.8

85.5

82.8

83.9

Cincinnati, OH

76.8

72.3

75.8

59.1

54.3

61.0

Cleveland, OH

90.8

87.5

85.1

81.9

90.4

80.8

Columbus, OH

81.8

71.4

67.3

63.5

57.5

52.5

Detroit, MI

88.4

86.7

87.6

75.9

77.3

82.3

Gary-Hammond-E.Chicago, IL

91.4

90.6

89.9

80.4

77.3

84.2

Indianapolis, IN

81.7

76.2

74.3

64.5

62.3

61.0

Kansas City, MO

87.4

78.9

72.6

74.2

69.0

61.6

Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA

91.0

81.1

73.1

70.3

60.4

69.3

Milwaukee, WI

90.5

83.9

82.8

73.9

69.5

72.4

New York, NY

81.0

82.0

82.2

58.8

62.7

81.9

Newark, NJ

81.4

81.6

82.5

67.0

69.2

78.6

Philadelphia, PA

79.5

78.8

77.2

68.2

69.6

72.2

Pittsburgh, PA

75.0

72.7

71.0

53.5

54.1

53.1

St. Louis, MO

84.7

81.3

77.0

76.5

72.9

69.5

San Francisco-Oakland, CA

80.1

71.7

66.8

56.0

51.1

56.1

Average

84.5

80.1

77.8

68.7

66.1

68.9

Southern

 

Atlanta, GA

82.1

78.5

67.8

78.0

74.8

66.5

Baltimore, MD

81.9

74.7

71.4

77.2

72.3

70.6

Birmingham, AL

37.8

40.8

71.7

45.1

50.2

69.6

Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX

86.9

77.1

63.1

76.0

64.0

58.0

Greensboro-Winston Salem, NC

65.4

56.0

60.9

56.1

50.1

55.5

Houston, TX

78.1

69.5

66.8

66.4

59.3

63.6

Memphis, TN

75.9

71.6

69.3

78.0

75.9

75.0

Miami, FL

85.1

77.8

71.8

75.2

64.2

74.1

New Orleans, LA

73.1

68.3

68.8

71.3

68.8

71.9

Norfolk-Virginia Beach, VA

75.7

63.1

50.3

73.5

62.8

55.9

Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL

79.9

72.6

69.7

58.0

51.5

51.0

Washington, DC

81.1

70.1

66.1

77.2

68.0

66.7

Average

75.3

68.3

66.5

69.3

63.5

64.9

aIndices are from Massey and Denton (1987).

bIndices are from Harrison and Weinberg (1992).

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis—small declines still left Blacks extremely segregated. All the latter metropolitan areas had dissimilarity indices exceeding 70 in 1990, and in four cases, the index was more than 80. No other ethnic or racial group in the history of the United States has ever, even briefly, experienced such high levels of residential segregation (Massey and Denton, 1993).

A few metropolitan areas experienced significant declines in the level of Black-White segregation between 1970 and 1990, although the pace of change slowed considerably during the 1980s, compared with the 1970s. In Columbus, Ohio, for example, Black-White dissimilarity fell by more than 10 index points from 1970 to 1980 (from 82 to 71), but then dropped by only 4 points through 1990. Likewise, San Francisco dropped from 80 to 72 during the 1970s, but went to just 68 by 1990.

The only areas that experienced a sustained decline in Black-White segregation across both decades were Los Angeles and Boston; but in each case, the overall index of segregation remained well within the high range. The drop in Los Angeles probably reflects the displacement of Blacks by the arrival of large numbers of Asian and, particularly, Hispanic immigrants (Massey and Denton, 1987). By 1990, for example, Watts, the core of the 1960s Black ghetto, had become predominantly Hispanic (Turner and Allen, 1991). The arrival of more than a million new immigrants in Los Angeles County between 1970 and 1980 put substantial pressure on the housing stock, and increased intergroup competition for residential units, especially at the low end of the market, leading to considerable neighborhood flux and residential mixing (Frey and Farley, 1996).

When large Black communities are subject to high levels of segregation, intense racial isolation is inevitable. In 1990, six metropolitan areas—Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Gary, New York, and Newark—had isolation indices of 80 or more, meaning that most Black people lived in neighborhoods that were more than 80 percent Black. Detailed analyses of neighborhoods show, however, that this overall average is misleading, because it represents a balance between a small minority of Blacks who reside in highly integrated neighborhoods and a large majority of Blacks who live in all-Black neighborhoods (Denton and Massey, 1991). Moreover, in four of the six metropolitan areas, the level of Black isolation actually increased between 1970 and 1990.

In other northern areas, the prevailing pattern of change in racial isolation was one of stability, with shifts of less than 5 percent from 1970 to 1990. The average isolation index of 68.9 in 1990 was virtually identical to the index of 68.7 observed two decades earlier; in other words, 20 years after the Fair Housing Act, Blacks were still unlikely to come into residential contact with members of other groups. The large ghettos of the North

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

have remained substantially intact and were largely unaffected by Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s.

Trends in Black segregation and isolation are somewhat different in the South, where segregation levels traditionally have been lower because of the distinctive history and character of southern cities. With social segregation enforced by Jim Crow legislation, Blacks and Whites before 1960 often lived in close physical proximity, with Black-inhabited alleys being interspersed between larger, White-occupied avenues (Demerath and Gilmore, 1954). During the postwar housing boom, moreover, rural Black settlements were often overtaken by expanding White suburbs, thereby creating the appearance of racial integration. For these and other reasons, Black-White segregation scores in the South traditionally have averaged about 10 points lower than in the North (Massey and Denton, 1993).

This regional differential is roughly maintained, as shown in Table 13–1 , but southern areas display considerably greater diversity, despite the regional averages, than in the North. In some metropolitan areas, such as Baltimore, Houston, and Tampa, significant declines in segregation occurred during the 1970s, but declines slowed during the 1980s. In others, such as Dallas, Miami, and Norfolk, steady declines occurred throughout both decades. In Memphis and New Orleans, relatively small changes occurred, no matter which decade one considers. Two southern areas displayed increasing levels of Black-White segregation—Birmingham, where the increase was very sharp after 1970, and Greensboro, where an initial decline during the 1970s was reversed during the 1980s.

In general, then, Black-White segregation scores in the South appear to be converging on indices from 60 to 70, yielding an average of 67 and maintaining the traditional differential compared with the North. Metropolitan areas with segregation indices higher than the 60 to 70 range in 1970 experienced decreasing segregation, whereas those with indices less than 60 to 70 displayed increasing segregation; and those with indices within that range did not change much.

Only Norfolk differed from this pattern, with a significant and sustained decline in segregation during both decades, producing by 1990 a level of Black-White dissimilarity well within the moderate range. Many Norfolk residents are in the military, which has been more successfully integrated than other institutions in American life (Moskos and Butler, 1996; see also Volume II, Chapter 8). Frey and Farley (1994) demonstrated that areas dominated, economically, by military bases have significantly lower levels of Black-White segregation than others, controlling for a variety of other factors.

Although indices of Black-White dissimilarity may be lower in the South, the relative number of Blacks in urban areas is greater; so the

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

average level of racial isolation within neighborhoods is not much different than in the North. From 1970 to 1990, there was relatively little change in the overall degree of Black isolation, with the average index decreasing from 69 in 1970 to 65 in 1990. In four southern areas—Baltimore, Memphis, Miami, and New Orleans—the Black isolation index was more than 70 in both decades; and in Birmingham, the index of Black isolation rose from 45 to 70 between 1970 and 1990. Only in Norfolk, which was rapidly desegregating, and in Tampa, which had relatively few Blacks, did isolation scores fall below 60. In most cities in the South, as in the North, Blacks were relatively unlikely to share neighborhoods with members of other racial or ethnic groups.

Thus, despite evidence of change in the South, Blacks living within the nation’s largest urban Black communities are still highly segregated and spatially isolated from the rest of American society. Of the 30 northern and southern areas examined here, 19 still had Black-White dissimilarity indices in excess of 70 in 1990, and 12 had isolation indices in excess of 70. Either in absolute terms or in comparison to other groups, Blacks remain a very residentially segregated and spatially isolated people.

RECENT TRENDS IN HISPANIC SEGREGATION

Based on the historical experience of Blacks, recent demographic trends for Hispanics would be expected to have produced increasing levels of segregation during the 1970s and 1980s. In this period, there has been a remarkable resurgence of Hispanic immigration, yielding rapidly growing Hispanic populations in many metropolitan areas. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, for example, the Hispanic population increased by 1.3 million between 1970 and 1990; Hispanics went from being 28 percent of the population to 38 percent. Because migrant networks channel new arrivals to neighborhoods where immigrants have already settled, such rapid in-migration could be expected to increase the concentration of Hispanics within enclaves and raise overall levels of isolation and segregation (Massey, 1985).

Although spatial assimilation may occur as income rises and the generations succeed one another, these socioeconomic mechanisms occur at a much slower pace than immigration and settlement. During periods of rapid immigration, therefore, segregation levels tend to rise; and the greater and more rapid the immigration, the more pronounced the increase in segregation.

Table 13–4 presents indicators of Hispanic-White dissimilarity and Hispanic residential isolation for the 30 metropolitan areas containing the largest Hispanic communities in the United States. In a significant subset of these metropolitan areas, Hispanics constitute an absolute majority of

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

TABLE 13–4 Trends in Hispanic Segregation and Isolation in the 30 Metropolitan Areas with the Largest Hispanic Populations, 1970 to 1990

 

Dissimilarity Indices

Isolation Indices

Metropolitan Area

1970a

1980a

1990b

1970a

1980a

1990b

Hispanic majority

 

Brownsville-Harlingen, TX

54.0c

42.0d

39.8

NA

NA

85.2

Corpus Christi, TX

55.9

51.6

47.5

63.5

63.6

67.8

El Paso, TX

49.6

51.2

49.7

71.5

74.1

80.0

McAllen-Pharr, TX

62.0c

48.0d

37.9

NA

NA

87.4

Miami, FL

50.4

51.9

50.3

46.5

58.3

73.4

San Antonio, TX

59.1

57.2

53.7

67.5

67.5

69.1

Average

55.2

50.3

46.5

62.3

65.9

77.2

Other metropolitan

 

Albuquerque, NM

45.7

42.5

41.9

54.4

50.6

53.4

Anaheim-Santa Ana, CA

32.0

41.6

49.9

19.4

31.0

50.1

Bakersfield, CA

50.8

54.5

55.4

34.9

42.1

55.7

Chicago, IL

58.4

63.5

63.2

25.1

38.0

51.3

Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX

42.5

47.8

49.5

18.6

24.0

41.1

Denver-Boulder, CO

47.4

47.4

46.5

27.4

27.5

33.8

Fresno, CA

40.8

45.4

47.8

37.6

44.6

58.7

Houston, TX

45.3

46.4

49.3

26.9

32.8

49.3

Jersey City, NJ

54.8

48.8

42.9

34.5

46.5

56.0

Los Angeles, CA

46.8

57.0

61.1

37.8

50.1

71.5

Nassau-Suffolk, NY

29.1

36.2

42.3

6.0

9.6

22.1

New York, NY

64.9

65.6

65.8

36.1

40.0

66.6

Newark, NJ

60.4

65.6

66.7

16.7

26.3

48.5

Oxnard-Simi Valley, CA

NA

NA

52.3

NA

NA

51.2

the total population, a condition that does not hold for any of the Black communities listed in Table 13–3. Because large minority populations increase the demographic potential for isolation, and because theorists hypothesize that high minority percentages foment greater discrimination on the part of majority members (Airport, 1958; Blalock, 1967), indices are tabulated separately for areas where Hispanics comprise a majority or near-majority (48 to 49 percent) of the population.

Despite the fact that demographic conditions in these metropolitan areas operate to maximize the potential for segregation, the degree of Hispanic-White residential dissimilarity proved to be quite moderate, and actually decreases over the two decades, going from an average of 55 in 1970 to 47 in 1990. Indices of Hispanic-White segregation were essentially constant in El Paso and Miami, and changed little in San Antonio and

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

 

Dissimilarity Indices

Isolation Indices

Metropolitan Area

1970a

1980a

1990b

1970a

1980a

1990b

Philadelphia, PA

54.0

62.9

62.6

10.6

21.6

42.9

Phoenix, AZ

48.4

49.4

48.1

32.1

32.1

39.8

Riverside-San Bernadino, CA

37.3

36.4

35.8

30.2

31.6

42.7

Sacramento, CA

34.7

36.4

37.0

16.3

16.5

23.9

San Diego, CA

33.1

42.1

45.3

19.8

26.9

43.6

San Francisco-Oakland, CA

34.7

40.2

43.9

19.2

19.3

41.1

San Jose, CA

40.2

44.5

47.8

29.6

31.7

47.1

Tampa, FL

56.0

48.4

45.3

25.0

18.2

21.5

Tucson, AZ

52.6

51.9

49.7

46.7

43.1

48.8

Washington, DC

31.8

30.5

40.9

4.3

5.4

22.5

Average

45.3

48.0

49.6

26.5

30.8

45.1

Note: The Massey-Denton computations did not include several metropolitan areas that housed large Hispanic populations in 1990; therefore, additional indices have been taken from Lopez (1981) and Hwang and Murdock (1982). These figures, however, were computed for central cities rather than metropolitan areas and are therefore somewhat higher thus underestimating increases and overestimating declines in the level of Hispanic-White segregation.

aIndices are from Massey and Denton (1987).

bIndices are from Harrison and Weinberg (1992).

cIndices are from Lopez (1981).

dIndices are from Hwang and Murdock (1982).

Corpus Christi. In Brownsville and McAllen, there were pronounced declines in segregation; but in no case was there an increase in Hispanic segregation from Whites within Hispanic-majority areas.

Indices of isolation, in contrast, were high and rose somewhat from 1970 to 1990. The increases did not stem from an increasing tendency for Whites and Hispanics to live apart, however, but from the large size and rapid growth of the Hispanic population. Isolation indices of 85 and 87 in Brownsville and McAllen mainly reflect the fact that Hispanics represent 82 and 85 percent of the metropolitan populations, respectively. Even if Hispanics were evenly distributed, high levels of Hispanic-White contact are impossible to achieve in areas that are so predominantly Hispanic.

Among Blacks, however, isolation indices in the 80s, as in Chicago and Detroit, generally reflect the intense segregation of Blacks, rather

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

than high Black population percentages; in both these metropolitan areas, Blacks constitute about 22 percent of the population. The contrast in the indices between Hispanics and Blacks is put into perspective by comparing indices for Hispanics in San Antonio with indices for Blacks in northern areas (see Table 13–1). Although Hispanics constitute 48 percent of San Antonio’s population, its Hispanic-White dissimilarity index of 54 is less than that for Black-White indices in any northern area; and San Antonio’s Hispanic isolation index of 69 is less than it is for 7 of the 18 Black isolation indices.

A better indication of what happens to Hispanics in U.S. cities can be seen by examining segregation measures computed for metropolitan areas where Hispanics do not constitute such a large percentage of the population. On average, indices of Hispanic-White dissimilarity changed little in these areas, moving upward slightly from 45 in 1970 to 50 in 1990. In about one-third of these metropolitan areas—Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York, Phoenix, Riverside, Sacramento, and Tucson—Hispanic segregation remained nearly constant from 1970 to 1990; and in three cases—Albuquerque, Jersey City, and Tampa—indices of Hispanic-White dissimilarity decreased somewhat over the decades. In the remainder of the areas, indices of Hispanic segregation increased. In most cases, the increases were modest; but in several instances, segregation increased substantially over the two decades. In Los Angeles, for example, indices of Hispanic-White segregation increased from 47 to 61; in Anaheim the increase was from 32 to 50. Large increases were also recorded in Nassau-Suffolk, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. In all these metropolitan areas there were rapid rates of Hispanic population growth and immigration from 1970 to 1990.

Despite these increases, indices of Hispanic-White segregation still remained moderate in 1990. Only 5 of the 24 metropolitan areas displayed indices in excess of 60. In 3 of these—New York, Newark, and Philadelphia—Puerto Ricans predominated; and since 1970, this group has stood apart from other Hispanic populations in displaying uniquely high levels of segregation (Jackson, 1981; Massey, 1981), a pattern largely attributable to the fact that many Puerto Ricans are of African ancestry (Massey and Bitterman, 1985; Massey and Denton, 1989a). The two remaining areas are Los Angeles, which experienced more Hispanic immigration than any other metropolitan area in the country, and Chicago, which contained a large population of Puerto Ricans in addition to a rapidly growing Mexican immigrant community.

Reflecting the increase in the proportion of Hispanics in most metropolitan areas, Hispanic isolation indices rose markedly throughout the nation. In those few areas where rates of Hispanic population increase were relatively slow—Albuquerque, Denver, Phoenix, and Tucson—the

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

level of Hispanic isolation hardly changed; but as the rate of Hispanic immigration increased, so did the extent of spatial isolation. Given its popularity as a destination for Hispanic immigration, Hispanic isolation rose most strongly in Southern California cities, going from 19 to 50 in Anaheim, 38 to 72 in Los Angeles, and 20 to 40 in San Diego.

By 1990, isolation indices equaled or exceeded 50 in about half of the metropolitan areas under consideration, but in only two cases—New York and Los Angeles, the two metropolitan areas with the largest Hispanic communities—did the index exceed 60. By way of contrast, only eight of the 30 Black communities examined earlier had Black isolation indices less than 60. Although contemporary demographic conditions suggest trends toward high segregation and rising isolation among Hispanics, they still do not display the high index ratings characteristic for Blacks in large urban areas.

RECENT TRENDS IN ASIAN SEGREGATION

Although Asian immigration into U.S. urban areas accelerated rapidly after 1970, Asian populations are still quite small compared with either Black or Hispanic populations. Moreover, Asians are more highly concentrated regionally and found in a relatively small number of metropolitan areas. Table 13–5, therefore, presents indices of Asian segregation and isolation only for the 20 largest Asian communities, rather than the 30 largest.

Again demographic conditions for Asians favor substantial increases in segregation and isolation. In most metropolitan areas, immigration led to the rapid expansion of a rather small 1970 population base. In some areas, the number of post-1970 migrants actually exceeds the size of the original Asian community severalfold. Only 25,000 Asians lived in the Anaheim-Santa Ana metropolitan area in 1970, for example, but by 1990, their number had multiplied ten times, to 249,000. Over the same period, the Asian community of Los Angeles quadrupled, going from 243,000 to 954,000; and Chicago’s Asian population grew from 62,000 to 230,000. In such cases, where a sudden massive in-migration overwhelms a small, established community, indices of segregation often decrease initially as new arrivals distribute themselves widely, and then increase as these pioneers attract subsequent settlers to the same residential areas.

Such a pattern of decreasing and then increasing Asian segregation is the most common pattern of change among the metropolitan areas shown in Table 13–5. The Asian-White dissimilarity index averaged 44 in 1970, decreased to 36 in 1980, and then increased to 41 in 1990. This basic trend occurred in 12 of the 20 metropolitan areas. In three more areas, an initial decline was followed by no change from 1980 to 1990. Only one area—

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

TABLE 13–5 Trends in Asian Segregation and Isolation in the 20 Metropolitan Areas with the Largest Asian Populations, 1970 to 1990

 

Dissimilarity Indices

Isolation Indices

Metropolitan Area

1970a

1980a

1990b

1970a

1980a

1990b

Anaheim, CA

27.4

24.9

33.3

2.6

7.7

22.4

Boston, MA

49.9

47.4

44.8

8.0

10.5

12.9

Chicago, IL

55.8

43.9

43.2

7.6

8.7

15.9

Dallas, TX

43.9

29.1

40.5

1.7

2.6

9.6

Fresno, CA

35.1

22.9

43.4

5.7

5.3

33.1

Houston, TX

42.7

34.6

45.7

1.5

4.5

15.7

Los Angeles, CA

53.1

43.1

46.3

12.3

15.2

40.5

Minneapolis, MN

45.2

36.9

41.2

3.0

6.2

15.1

Nassau-Suffolk, NY

42.2

34.5

32.4

1.0

2.2

5.9

New York, NY

56.1

48.1

48.4

11.6

14.3

32.8

Newark, NJ

50.2

34.4

29.6

1.5

2.9

7.5

Paterson-Clifton-Passaic, NJ

46.6

40.4

34.4

1.3

3.1

12.1

Philadelphia, PA

49.1

43.7

43.2

2.4

4.0

11.0

Riverside-San Bernadino, CA

31.9

21.5

32.8

2.5

4.1

10.2

Sacramento, CA

47.6

35.5

47.7

11.8

11.6

23.6

San Diego, CA

41.3

40.5

48.1

5.9

11.1

29.1

San Francisco-Oakland, CA

48.6

44.4

50.1

21.0

23.2

46.0

San Jose, CA

25.4

29.5

38.5

5.3

11.6

36.6

Seattle, WA

46.6

33.3

36.5

11.7

12.4

20.0

Washington, DC

36.5

26.8

32.3

2.2

5.7

12.6

Average

43.8

35.8

40.6

6.0

8.3

20.6

aIndices are from Massey and Denton (1987).

bIndices are from Harrison and Weinberg (1992).

San Jose—experienced a sustained increase in Asian segregation; but it began from a very low level of segregation in 1970. Four areas displayed uninterrupted declines in segregation across both decades—Boston, Nassau-Suffolk, Newark, and Paterson.

Despite rapid immigration and population growth, Asian segregation indices remained quite moderate in 1990. Increases observed between 1980 and 1990 simply restored the indices to their 1970 levels, yielding little net change over the two decades. Thus, Asian-White dissimilarity indices ranged from the low 30s in Anaheim, Nassau-Suffolk, Newark, Riverside, and Washington to 50 in San Francisco-Oakland. In no metropolitan area did the index of Asian segregation approach the

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

high levels characteristic of Blacks in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

Rapid Asian immigration into moderately segregated communities did produce rather sharp increases in the extent of Asian isolation, however, consistent with a process of enclave consolidation. The most pronounced increases occurred in areas where southeast-Asian refugees settled in large numbers—Anaheim, where the isolation index rose from 3 in 1970 to 22 in 1990; Fresno, where the increase was from 6 to 33; and San Diego, where the increase was from 6 to 29. Despite these increases, however, Asians still are not very isolated anywhere, including San Francisco-Oakland, where they constitute a higher percentage of the population (21 percent) than in any other metropolitan area. The isolation index of 46 means that Asians in the Bay Area are more likely to share a neighborhood with non-Asians than with each other; and in Los Angeles, which received the highest number of Asian immigrants between 1970 and 1990, the isolation index rose to just under 41. Thus, the largest and most segregated Asian communities in the United States are much less isolated than the most integrated Black communities.

BLACK HYPERSEGREGATION

Despite their apparent clarity, the above data actually understate the extent of Black isolation in U.S. society, because the data only incorporate two dimensions of segregation: evenness, as measured by the dissimilarity index, and isolation, as measured by the P* index. Massey and Denton (1988, 1989b), however, conceptualize segregation as a multidimensional construct. They contend there are five dimensions of spatial variation; in addition to evenness and isolation, residential segregation should be conceptualized in terms of clustering, concentration, and centralization. This five-dimensional conceptualization of segregation recently has been updated and revalidated with 1990 data (Massey et al., 1996).

Clustering is the extent to which minority areas adjoin one another spatially. It is maximized when Black neighborhoods form one large, contiguous ghetto; and it is minimized when they are scattered, as in a checkerboard pattern. Centralization is the degree to which Blacks are distributed in and around the center of an urban area, usually defined as the central-business district. Concentration is the relative amount of physical space occupied by Blacks; as segregation increases, Blacks are increasingly confined to smaller, geographically compacted areas.

A high level of segregation on any single dimension is problematic because it isolates a minority group from amenities, opportunities, and resources that affect socioeconomic well-being. As high levels of segregation accumulate across dimensions, however, the deleterious effects of

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

segregation multiply. Indices of evenness and isolation (i.e., dissimilarity and P*), by themselves, cannot capture this multidimensional layering of segregation; therefore, there is a misrepresentation of the nature of Black segregation and an understatement of its severity. Blacks are not only more segregated than other groups on any single dimension of segregation; they are more segregated across all dimensions simultaneously.

Massey and Denton (1993) identified a set of 16 metropolitan areas that were highly segregated—i.e., had an index higher than 60—on at least four of the five dimensions of segregation, a pattern they called “hypersegregation.” These metropolitan areas included Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Gary, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Newark, and St. Louis. Within this set of areas, the Black-White dissimilarity index averaged 82, the average isolation index was 71, the mean clustering index was 58, the mean centralization index was 88, and the average concentration index was 83. By way of contrast, neither Hispanics nor Asians were hypersegregated within any metropolitan area.

These 16 metropolitan areas are among the most important in the country, incorporating 6 of the 10 largest urban areas in the United States. Blacks in these areas live within large, contiguous settlements of densely inhabited neighborhoods packed tightly around the urban core. Inhabitants typically would be unlikely to come into contact with non-Blacks in the neighborhood where they live. If they were to travel to an adjacent neighborhood, they would still be unlikely to see a White face. If they went to the next neighborhood beyond that, no Whites would be there either. People growing up in such an environment would have little direct experience with the culture, norms, and behaviors of the rest of American society, and have few social contacts with members of other racial groups.

Denton (1994) reexamined the issue of hypersegregation using data from the 1990 Census. According to her analysis, not only has Black hypersegregation continued, in many ways it has grown worse. Of the 16 metropolitan areas defined as hypersegregated in 1980, 14 remained so in 1990. In Atlanta the index of spatial concentration decreased to 59, just missing the criteria for hypersegregation, and in Dallas the isolation index decreased to 58. But both these figures are just below the threshold index of 60. All other metropolitan areas that were hypersegregated in 1980 showed an increase on at least one dimension by 1990. In 10 areas, isolation increased; concentration grew more acute in 9 areas; and clustering increased in 8. In Newark and Buffalo, segregation increased in all five dimensions simultaneously; and in Detroit, segregation increased on all dimensions but one.

In short, areas that were hypersegregated in 1980 generally remained

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

so in 1990, and there was little evidence of movement away from this extreme pattern. On the contrary, hypersegregation appears to have spread to several new urban areas during the 1980s. Of the 44 nonhypersegregated metropolitan areas studied by Massey and Denton in 1980, Denton (1994) found that 6 had come to satisfy the criteria by 1990— Birmingham, Cincinnati, Miami, New Orleans, Oakland, and Washington, D.C.—bringing the total number of hypersegregated metropolitan areas to 20. Taken together, these 20 contain roughly 11 million Blacks and constitute 36 percent of the entire U.S. Black population. As already pointed out, the percentage of Hispanics and Asians who are hypersegregated is zero.

EXPLAINING THE PERSISTENCE OF RACIAL SEGREGATION

A variety of explanations have been posited to account for the unusual depth and persistence of Black segregation in American cities. One hypothesis is that racial segregation reflects class differences between Blacks and Whites—i.e., because Blacks, on average, have lower incomes and fewer socioeconomic resources than Whites, they cannot afford to move into White neighborhoods in significant numbers. According to this hypothesis, Black-White segregation, to some extent, reflects segregation on the basis of income, with poor households, which happen to be predominantly Black, living in different neighborhoods than affluent households, which happen to be disproportionately White.

This explanation has not been sustained empirically, however. When indices of racial segregation are computed within categories of income, occupation, or education, researchers have found that levels of Black-White segregation do not vary by social class (Farley, 1977; Simkus, 1978; Massey, 1979, 1981; Massey and Fischer, 1999). According to Denton and Massey (1988), Black families annually earning at least $50,000 were just as segregated as those earning less than $2,500. Indeed, Black families annually earning more than $50,000 were more segregated than Hispanic or Asian families earning less than $2,500. In other words, the most affluent Blacks appear to be more segregated than the poorest Hispanics or Asians; and in contrast to the case of Blacks, Hispanic and Asian segregation levels fall steadily as income rises, reaching low or moderate levels at incomes of $50,000 or more (Denton and Massey, 1988).

Another explanation for racial segregation is that Blacks prefer to live in predominantly Black neighborhoods, and that segregated housing simply reflects these preferences. This line of reasoning does not square well with survey evidence on Black attitudes, however. Most Blacks continue to express strong support for the ideal of integration. When asked on opinion polls whether they favor “desegregation, strict segregation, or

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

something in-between,” Blacks answer “desegregation” in large numbers (Schuman et al., 1985). Blacks are virtually unanimous in agreeing that “Black people have a right to live wherever they can afford to,” and 71 percent would vote for a community-wide law to enforce this right (Bobo et al., 1986).

Black respondents are not only committed to integration as an ideal, survey results suggest they also strongly prefer it in practice. When asked about specific neighborhood racial compositions, Blacks consistently select racially mixed areas as most desirable (Farley et al., 1978, 1979, 1994; Clark, 1991). Although the most popular choice is a neighborhood that is half-Black and half-White, as late as 1992, nearly 90 percent of Blacks in Detroit would be willing to live in virtually any racially mixed area (Farley et al., 1994).

Although Blacks express a reluctance about moving into all-White neighborhoods, this apprehension does not indicate a rejection of White neighbors per se, but stems from well-founded fears of hostility and rejection. Among Black respondents to a 1976 Detroit survey who expressed a reluctance to moving into all-White areas, 34 percent thought that White neighbors would be unfriendly and make them feel unwelcome, 37 percent felt they would be made to feel uncomfortable, and 17 percent expressed a fear of outright violence (Farley et al., 1979). Moreover, 80 percent of all Black respondents rejected the view that moving into a White neighborhood constituted a desertion of the Black community. More recently, Jackson (1994) linked the reluctance of Blacks to “pioneer” White areas not only to fears of rejection by White neighbors, but also to an expectation of discrimination by real estate agents and lenders.

Thus evidence suggests that racial segregation in urban America is not a voluntary reflection of Black preferences. If it were up to them, Blacks would live in racially mixed neighborhoods. But it is not up to them only, of course; their preferences interact with those of Whites and, thus, produce the residential configurations actually observed. Even though Blacks may prefer neighborhoods with an even racial balance, integration will not occur if most Whites find this level of racial mixing unacceptable.

On the surface, Whites seem to share Blacks’ ideological commitment to open housing. The percentage of Whites on national surveys who agree that “Black people have a right to live wherever they can afford to” approached 90 percent in the late 1970s; and the percentage who disagreed with the view that “White people have a right to keep Blacks out of their [Whites’] neighborhoods,” reached 67 percent in 1980. At present, few Whites openly call for the strict segregation of American society (Schuman et al., 1985, 1998; Sniderman and Piazza, 1993; Hochschild, 1995).

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

However, Whites remain quite uncomfortable with the implications of open housing in practice; only 40 percent, in 1980, said they would be willing to vote for a community-wide law stating that “a homeowner cannot refuse to sell to someone because of their race or skin color” (Schuman and Bobo, 1988). In other words, 60 percent of Whites would vote against an open housing law, which, in fact, has been federal law for 25 years.

White support for open housing generally declines as the hypothetical number of Blacks in their neighborhood increases. Whereas 86 percent of Whites in 1978 said they would not move if “a Black person came to live next door,” only 46 percent stated they would not move if “Black people came to live in large numbers,” and only 28 percent of Whites would be willing to live in a neighborhood that was half-Black and half-White (Schuman et al., 1985). Likewise, the severity of White prejudice toward Blacks increases as the percentage of Blacks in the area increases, a relationship that is not observed for Hispanics or Asians (Taylor, 1998).

When questions are posed about specific neighborhood compositions, moreover, it becomes clear that White tolerance for racial mixing is quite limited. According to Farley et al. (1994), 16 percent of Whites responding to a 1992 Detroit survey said they would feel uncomfortable in a neighborhood where only 7 percent of the residents were Black; 13 percent would be unwilling to enter such an area. When the Black percentage reaches 20 percent, one-third of all Whites say they would be unwilling to enter, 30 percent would feel uncomfortable, and 15 percent would seek to leave. A neighborhood about 30 percent Black exceeds the limits of racial tolerance for most Whites; 59 percent would be unwilling to move in, 44 percent would feel uncomfortable, and 29 percent would try to leave. Beyond a 50:50 balance, a neighborhood becomes unacceptable to all except a small minority of Whites; 73 percent said they would not wish to move into such a neighborhood, 53 percent would try to leave, and 65 percent would feel uncomfortable. As was stated, most Blacks feel a 50:50 racial mixture is desirable. This fundamental disparity between the two races has been confirmed by surveys conducted in Milwaukee, Omaha, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Los Angeles (Clark, 1991).

The discrepancy between Whites’ acceptance of open housing in principal and their reluctance to live among Blacks in practice yields a rather specific hypothesis about the nature of trends in Black-White segregation over the past 20 years. Hypothetically, declines in Black-White segregation should be confined primarily to metropolitan areas with relatively small Black populations, because in these places, desegregation can occur without Whites having to share their neighborhoods with too many Black people (Massey and Gross, 1991). If Black people make up 3 percent of the metropolitan population, for example, then complete desegregation

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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yields an average of 3 percent Black within every neighborhood, which is well within most Whites’ tolerance limits. If, however, Black people make up 20 percent of the metropolitan population, desegregation would produce neighborhoods that are 20 percent Black, on average, which exceeds the tolerance limits of many Whites, creates instability, and fuels a process of neighborhood turnover. In keeping with this hypothesis, Krivo and Kaufman (1999) show that desegregation between 1980 and 1990 was quite likely where the Black population was small but very unlikely where it was large. As a result, observed declines in segregation during the 1980s were confined largely to metropolitan areas that contained very few Blacks.

Over the last three decades, U.S. metropolitan areas have been transformed by immigration and many have moved well beyond the simple Black-White dichotomy of earlier years, necessitating new approaches to the measurement of racial attitudes. A recent survey in Los Angeles sought to replicate the Detroit survey within an ethnically diverse metropolis. Analysis of these data by Zubrinsky and Bobo (1996) showed that all non-Black groups—Whites, Asians, and Hispanics—attribute a variety of negative traits to Blacks and consider Blacks to be the least desirable neighbors (see, also, Bobo and Zubrinsky, 1996). Blacks experience by far the greatest likelihood of hostility from other groups, and are universally acknowledged to face the most severe housing discrimination. The end result is a clear hierarchy of neighborhood racial preferences in Los Angeles, with Whites at the top, followed by Asians and Hispanics, and Blacks at the bottom. Segregation does not result from Black ethnocentrism so much as from avoidance behavior by other groups, all of whom seek to circumvent potential coresidence with Blacks.

These contrasting racial attitudes create large intergroup disparities in the demand for housing in racially mixed neighborhoods. Given the violence, intimidation, and harassment that historically have followed their entry into White areas, Blacks express reluctance at being first across the color line. After one or two Black families have moved into a neighborhood, however, Black demand grows rapidly, given the high value placed on integrated housing. This demand escalates as the Black percentage rises toward 50 percent, the most preferred neighborhood configuration; beyond this point, Black demand stabilizes and then falls off as the Black percentage rises toward 100 percent.

The pattern of White, Asian, and Hispanic demand for housing in racially mixed areas follows precisely the opposite trajectory. Demand is strong for homes in all-White areas, but once one or two Black families enter a neighborhood, demand begins to falter as some non-Black families leave and others refuse to move in. The acceleration in residential turnover coincides with the expansion of Black demand, making it likely that

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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outgoing White, Hispanic, or Asian households are replaced by Black families. As the Black percentage rises, overall demand drops ever more steeply, and Black demand rises at an increasing rate. By the time Black demand peaks at the 50 percent mark, practically no other groups are willing to enter and most are trying to leave. Thus, racial segregation appears to be created by a process of racial turnover fueled by the persistence of significant anti-Black prejudice on the part of virtually every other group.

This model of racial change was proposed two decades ago by Schelling (1971), who argued that integration is an unstable outcome because Whites prefer lower minority proportions than Blacks—even though Whites might accept some Black neighbors. Yet by itself, Schelling’s explanation is incomplete. Whites can only avoid coresidence with Blacks if mechanisms exist to keep Blacks out of neighborhoods to which they might otherwise be attracted. Whites can only flee a neighborhood where Blacks have entered if there are other all-White neighborhoods to go to, and this escape will only be successful if Blacks are unlikely or unable to follow.

Racial discrimination was institutionalized in the real estate industry during the 1920s and well established in private practice by the 1940s (Massey and Denton, 1993). Evidence shows that discriminatory behavior was widespread among realtors at least until 1968, when the Fair Housing Act was passed (Helper, 1969; Saltman, 1979). After that, outright refusals to rent or sell to Blacks became rare, given that overt discrimination could lead to prosecution under the law.

Black home seekers now face a more subtle process of exclusion. Rather than encountering “White only” signs, they encounter a covert series of barriers. Blacks who inquire about an advertised unit may be told that it has just been sold or rented; they may be shown only the advertised unit and told that no others are available; they may only be shown houses in Black or racially mixed areas and led away from White neighborhoods; they may be quoted a higher rent or selling price than Whites; they may be told that the selling agents are too busy and to come back later; their phone number may be taken but a return call never made; they may be shown units but offered no assistance in arranging financing; or they simply may be treated brusquely and discourteously in hopes that they will leave.

Although individual acts of discrimination are small and subtle, they have a powerful cumulative effect in lowering the probability of Black entry into White neighborhoods. Because the discrimination is latent, however, it is not easily observable, and the only way to confirm whether or not it has occurred is to compare the treatment of both Black and White clients that have similar social and economic characteristics. If White

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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clients receive systematically more favorable treatment, then one can safely conclude that discrimination has taken place (Fix et al., 1993).

Differences in the treatment of White and Black home seekers are measured by means of a housing audit. Teams of White and Black auditors are paired and sent to randomly selected realtors to pose as clients seeking a home or apartment. The auditors are trained to present comparable housing needs and family characteristics, and to express similar tastes; they are assigned equivalent social and economic traits by the investigator. After each encounter, the auditors fill out a detailed report of their experiences and the results are tabulated and compared to determine the nature and level of discrimination (Yinger, 1986, 1989).

Local fair-housing organizations began to conduct such studies at the end of the 1960s. These efforts revealed that discrimination was continuing despite the Fair Housing Act. A 1969 audit of realtors in St. Louis, for example, documented a pattern and practice of discrimination sufficient to force four realty firms to sign a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice wherein they agreed to desist from certain biased practices (Saltman, 1979). Likewise, a 1971 audit study carried out in Palo Alto, California, found that Blacks were treated in a discriminatory fashion by 50 percent of the area’s apartment complexes; and a 1972 audit of apartments in suburban Baltimore uncovered discrimination in more than 45 percent of the cases (Saltman, 1979).

Racial discrimination clearly persisted through the 1980s. In one 1983 Chicago study, suburban realtors showed homes to 67 percent of White auditors but only 47 percent of Black auditors (Hintzen, 1983). Another Chicago study done in 1985 revealed that Whites were offered financial information at nearly twice the rate it was offered to Blacks (Schroeder, 1985). One developer working in Chicago’s south suburbs refused to deal with Blacks at all; Blacks were always told that no properties were available, even though 80 percent of Whites were shown real estate (Bertram, 1988). In the same study, realtors told 92 percent of Whites that apartments were available but gave this information to only 46 percent of Blacks.

Audit studies of other metropolitan areas reveal similar levels of racial discrimination. According to Yinger’s (1986) review of studies conducted in metropolitan Boston and Denver during the early 1980s, Black home seekers had between a 38 and a 59 percent chance of receiving unfavorable treatment, compared to Whites, on any given real estate transaction. Through various lies and deceptions, Blacks were informed of only 65 of every 100 units presented to Whites, and they inspected fewer than 54 of every 100 shown to Whites.

In 1987, Galster (1990a) wrote to more than 200 local fair-housing organizations and obtained written reports of 71 different audit studies

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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carried out during the 1980s–21 in the home sales market and 50 in the rental market. Despite differences in measures and methods, he concluded that “racial discrimination continues to be a dominant feature of metropolitan housing markets in the 1980s” (p. 172). Using a conservative measure of racial bias, he found that Blacks averaged a 20 percent chance of experiencing discrimination in the sales market and a 50 percent chance in the rental market.

Studies have also examined the prevalence of “steering” by real estate agents. Steering occurs when White and Black clients are guided to neighborhoods that differ systematically with respect to social and economic characteristics, especially racial composition. A study carried out in Cleveland during the early 1970s found that 70 percent of companies engaged in some form of steering (Saltman, 1979); and an examination of realtors in metropolitan Detroit during the mid-1970s revealed that, compared to Whites, Blacks were shown homes in less-expensive areas that were located closer to Black population centers (Pearce, 1979).

Galster (1990b) studied six real estate firms located in Cincinnati and Memphis and found that racial steering occurred in roughly 50 percent of the transactions sampled during the mid-1980s. As in the Detroit study, homes shown to Blacks tended to be in racially mixed areas and were more likely to be adjacent to neighborhoods with a high percentage of Black residents. White auditors were rarely shown homes in integrated neighborhoods, unless they specifically requested them, and even after the request was honored, they continued to be guided primarily to homes in White areas. Sales agents also made numerous positive comments about White neighborhoods to White clients but said little to Black home buyers. In a broader review of 36 different audit studies, Galster (1990c) discovered that such selective commentary by agents is probably more common than overt steering.

These local studies, however suggestive, do not provide a comprehensive national assessment of housing discrimination in contemporary American cities. The first such effort was mounted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1977. The study covered 40 metropolitan areas with significant Black populations and confirmed the results of earlier local audits. Discrimination clearly was not confined to a few isolated cases. Nationwide, Whites were favored on 48 percent of transactions in the sales market and on 39 percent of those in the rental market (Wienk et al., 1979).

The 1977 HUD audit survey was replicated in 1988; the Housing Discrimination Study (HDS) covered both the rental and sales markets, and the auditors were given incomes and family characteristics appropriate to the housing unit advertised (Yinger, 1995). Twenty audit sites were randomly selected from among metropolitan areas having a central city

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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population exceeding 100,000 with Blacks constituting more than 12 percent of the population. Real estate ads in major metropolitan newspapers were randomly sampled.

The typical advertised unit was located in a White, middle-to-upper-class area, as were most of the real estate offices; remarkably few homes were in Black or racially mixed neighborhoods. Even after controlling for the social and economic composition of its neighborhood, the percentage of Black residents was a strong predictor of whether a unit was advertised at all (Turner et al., 1991). Galster and his colleagues found a similar bias in real estate advertising in Milwaukee from 1981 to 1984 (Galster et al., 1987). Compared to homes in White areas, those in racially mixed or Black areas were much less likely to be advertised, much more likely to be represented by one-line ads when they were advertised, and much less likely to be favorably described. Real estate companies apparently do a poor job of marketing homes in racially mixed neighborhoods, thereby restricting White demand for integrated housing and promoting segregation.

Realtors were approached by auditors who inquired about the availability of the advertised unit; they also asked about other units that might be on the market. Based on the results, HDS provided evidence that discrimination against Blacks had declined little since 1977. Indeed, it appears the 1977 HUD study may have understated both the incidence and severity of housing discrimination in American cities (Yinger, 1995). According to HDS data, housing was made more available to Whites in 45 percent of the transactions in the rental market and in 34 percent of those in the sales market. Whites received more favorable credit assistance in 46 percent of sales encounters, and were offered more favorable terms in 17 percent of rental transactions. When housing availability and financial assistance were considered together, the likelihood of experiencing racial discrimination was 53 percent in both the rental and sales markets.

The sales audits also assessed the frequency of racial steering; when this form of discrimination was also considered, the likelihood of discrimination rose to 60 percent (Yinger, 1995). Because these figures refer to the odds on any single visit to a realtor, over a series of visits, they accumulate to extremely high probabilities—well over 90 percent in three visits. In the course of even the briefest search for housing, therefore, Blacks are almost certain to encounter discrimination.

In addition to measuring the incidence of discrimination—i.e., the percentage of encounters during which discrimination occurs—HDS also measured its severity—i.e., the number of units made available to Whites but not to Blacks. In stark terms, Blacks were systematically shown, offered, and invited to inspect far fewer homes than comparably quali-

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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fied Whites. As a result, Blacks’ access to urban housing is substantially reduced.

The likelihood that an additional unit was shown to Whites but not Blacks was 65 percent, and the probability that an additional unit was recommended to Whites but not Blacks was 91 percent. The HDS auditors encountered equally severe bias in the marketing of nonadvertised units; the likelihood that an additional unit was inspected by Whites only was 62 percent, and the probability that Whites only were invited to see another unit was 90 percent. Comparable results were found in urban sales markets, where the severity of discrimination varied from 66 percent to 89 percent. Thus, no matter what index one considers, between 60 percent and 90 percent of the housing units made available to Whites were not brought to the attention of Blacks (Yinger, 1995).

The 1988 HDS audit found equally severe discrimination in the provision of credit assistance to home buyers. Of every 100 times that agents discussed a fixed-rate mortgage, 89 of the discussions were with Whites only, and of 100 times that adjustable-rate loans were brought up, 91 percent of the discussions excluded Blacks (Yinger, 1995).

Although these audit results are compelling, they do not directly link discrimination to segregation. They show only that discrimination and segregation exist and persist simultaneously across time. Fortunately, several studies have been conducted to document and quantify the links among discrimination, prejudice, and segregation.

Using data from the 1977 HUD audit study, Galster (1986) related cross-metropolitan variation in housing discrimination to the degree of racial segregation in different urban areas. He not only confirmed the empirical linkage, he also discovered that segregation itself has important feedback effects on socioeconomic status (see also Galster and Keeney, 1988). Discrimination not only leads to segregation; segregation, by restricting economic opportunities for Blacks, produces interracial economic disparities that incite further discrimination and more segregation.

In a detailed study of census tracts in the Cleveland area, Galster found that neighborhoods that were all-White or racially changing evinced much higher rates of discrimination than areas that were stably integrated or predominantly Black (Galster, 1987, 1990d). Moreover, the pace of racial change was strongly predicted by the percentage of Whites who agreed that “White people have a right to keep Blacks out of their neighborhoods.” Areas where such sentiment was documented experienced systematic White population loss after only a few Blacks had moved in, and the speed of transition accelerated rapidly beyond a point of 3 percent Black. Tracts where Whites expressed a low degree of racist sentiment, however, showed little tendency for White flight up to a composition of around 40 percent Black. Rather than declining in signifi-

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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cance, race remains the dominant organizing principle of U.S. urban housing markets. When it comes to determining where, and with whom, Americans live, race appears to overwhelm other considerations.

Compared with Blacks, relatively few studies of prejudice and discrimination against Hispanics have been conducted, and there are no national studies that examine attitudes and behaviors concerning Asians. Hakken (1979) found that discrimination against Hispanics in the rental housing market of Dallas was as likely as that against Blacks, and similar results were reported by Feins and colleagues for Boston (Feins et al., 1981). James and Tynan (1986) replicated these results in a study of Denver’s sales market, but they found a substantially lower probability of discrimination against Hispanics in the rental market; and despite the relatively high likelihood of discrimination in home sales, in reality, severity of discrimination against Hispanics was not great; the average number of housing units offered to Hispanics was not significantly different than the number offered to non-Hispanic Whites (James and Tynan, 1986).

As with Blacks, however, discrimination against Hispanics appears to have a racial basis. Hakken (1979) found that dark-skinned Chicanos were more likely to experience discriminatory treatment than Blacks, whereas light-skinned Hispanics were less likely to experience such treatment. Consistent with this finding, Massey and Denton (1992) found that Mexicans who identified themselves as mestizos (people of mixed European and Indian origin) were less likely to achieve suburban residence than those who identified themselves as White.

The extent of the racial effect is greater among Caribbean Hispanics, particularly Puerto Ricans, among whom the racial continuum runs from European to African. Denton and Massey (1989) showed that for Puerto Ricans who identified themselves as Black, housing was as segregated as for U.S. Blacks, whereas those who identified themselves as White experienced low-to-moderate levels of separation. Discrimination was mixed for Caribbean Hispanics who said they were of mixed Black-White origins, but were much closer to the high level of Black segregation. The degree of segregation experienced by racially mixed Caribbean Hispanics was generally greater than that experienced by racially mixed Mexicans, suggesting greater White antipathy toward Africans than Amerindians.

The most complete and systematic data on the treatment of Hispanics in urban real estate markets comes from HUD’s 1988 HDS (Yinger, 1995). Results from this study indicate that the overall incidence of housing discrimination was greater for Hispanics than Blacks in the sales market (42 versus 34 percent), but less for Hispanics than Blacks in the rental market (32 versus 45 percent), replicating the earlier results of James and Tynan (1986) in Denver. Also in keeping with the findings of James and Tynan was the fact that the severity of discrimination in the sales market

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

was considerably lower for Hispanics than for Blacks; whereas the marginal probability that an additional housing unit was denied to Blacks was 88 percent, it was only 66 percent for Hispanics. As in earlier research, in the 1988 HDS, race figured prominently in the treatment of Hispanics—dark-skinned Hispanics were much more likely to experience discrimination in the sales market than light-skinned Hispanics (Yinger, 1995). Paradoxically, therefore, recent research on discrimination involving Hispanics reaffirms the conclusion that race remains the dominant organizing principle in U.S. urban housing markets.

SEGREGATION AND THE CONCENTRATION OF POVERTY

The past two decades have been hard on the socioeconomic well-being of many Americans. The structural transformation of the U.S. economy from goods production to service provision generated a strong demand for workers with high and low levels of schooling, but offered few opportunities for those with modest education and training. In the postindustrial economy that emerged after 1973, labor unions withered, the middle class bifurcated, income inequality grew, and poverty spread; and this new stratification between people was accompanied by a growing spatial separation between them. The stagnation of income proved to be remarkably widespread, and inequality rose not only for minorities— Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians—but also for non-Hispanic Whites (Danziger and Gottschalk, 1995; Levy, 1995; Morris et al., 1994). As a result of their continued racial segregation, however, the spatial concentration of poverty was especially severe for Blacks (Massey and Eggers, 1990; Massey et al., 1991; Krivo et al., 1998). High levels of income inequality paired with high levels of racial or ethnic segregation result in geographically concentrated poverty, because the poverty is localized in a small number of densely settled, racially homogenous, tightly clustered areas, often in an older, urban core abandoned by industry. Had segregation not been in place, the heightened poverty would be distributed widely throughout the metropolitan area (Massey, 1990; Massey and Denton, 1993). By 1990, 83 percent of poor inner-city Blacks lived in neighborhoods that were at least 20 percent poor (Kasarda, 1993).

In a recent paper, Massey and Fischer (2000) broadened this theoretical perspective by arguing that racial segregation interacts with any structural shift that affects the distribution of income, or the spatial configuration of the classes, to concentrate poverty spatially. Specifically, they hypothesize that as racial segregation increases, decreasing incomes, increasing inequality, increasing class segregation, and increasing immigration are more strongly translated into geographic isolation of the poor. Thus, these structural trends produce high and increasing concentrations

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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of poverty for highly segregated groups, but low and falling concentrations of poverty among nonsegregated groups.

Because more than 70 percent of urban Blacks are highly segregated, but 90 percent of all other groups are not, the population of poor experiencing high concentrations of poverty is overwhelmingly Black (Massey and Fischer, 2000). Given the interaction between racial segregation and the changing socioeconomic structure of American society, the issue of race cannot be set aside to focus on the politics of race versus class. Although the implementation of policies that raise average incomes, lower income inequality, and reduce class segregation would lower the spatial isolation of the urban poor, policies to promote the desegregation of urban society would probably have an even greater effect, given segregation’s critical role in determining how these factors generate concentrated poverty.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF CONCENTRATED POVERTY

The argument that the prevalence of concentrated poverty among Blacks decisively undermines the life chances of the Black poor was first made forcefully by Wilson (1987). He argued that class isolation, through a variety of mechanisms, reduced employment, lowered incomes, depressed marriage, and increased unwed childbearing over and above any effects of individual or family deprivation. At the time Wilson made this argument, relatively little evidence existed to support it (Jencks and Mayer, 1990), but over the past decade a growing number of studies have accumulated to sustain the basic thrust of Wilson’s hypothesis.

In 1988, the Rockefeller and Russell Sage Foundations funded the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) to establish a program of research into the causes and consequences of persistent urban poverty. One SSRC subcommittee—the Working Group on Communities and Neighborhoods, Family Processes, and Individual Development—met regularly over the next eight years to conceptualize and then implement a program of research to determine how concentrated poverty affected social and cognitive development. The ultimate product was a recently published series of studies (Brooks-Gunn et al., 1997) examining the effect of neighborhood conditions on cognitive and social development at three points in the life cycle—early childhood (ages 3–7), late childhood/early adolescence (ages 11–15), and late adolescence (ages 16–19).

These empirical analyses clearly show that socioeconomic inequality is perpetuated by mechanisms operating at the neighborhood level, although the specific pathways are perhaps more complex than Wilson or others imagined. Not only do neighborhood effects vary in their nature and intensity at different stages of the life cycle, they are often condi-

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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tioned by gender, mediated by family processes, and possibly interactive in how they combine with individual factors to determine social outcomes. Despite these complexities, however, research permits three broad generalizations.

  • First, neighborhoods seem to influence individual development most powerfully in early childhood and late adolescence.

  • Second, the spatial concentration of affluence appears to be more important in determining cognitive development and academic achievement than the concentration of poverty.

  • Third, the concentration of male joblessness affects social behavior more than cognitive development, particularly among Blacks.

These effects persist even after controlling for unobserved heterogeneity. Thus, Wilson’s (1987) theory is basically correct—there is something to the hypothesis of neighborhood effects.

One of the most important disadvantages transmitted through prolonged exposure to the ghetto is educational failure. Datcher (1982) estimates that moving a poor Black male from his typical neighborhood (66 percent Black with an average annual income of $8,500) to a typical White neighborhood (86 percent White with a mean income of $11,500) would raise his educational attainment by nearly a year. Corcoran and colleagues (1989) found similar results. Crane (1991) likewise shows that the dropout probability for Black teenage males increases dramatically as the percentage of low-status workers in the neighborhood increases. Residence in a poor neighborhood also decreases the odds of success in the labor market. Datcher (1982) found that growing up in a poor Black area lowered male earnings by at least 27 percent, although Corcoran and colleagues (1989) put the percentage at about 18 percent.

Exposure to conditions typical of the ghetto also dramatically increase the odds of pregnancy and childbirth among teenage girls. According to estimates by Crane (1991), the probability of a teenage birth increases dramatically as the percentage of low-status workers in the neighborhood increases. Similarly, Hogan and Kitagawa (1985) found that living in a very poor neighborhood raised the monthly pregnancy rate among Black adolescents by 20 percent and lowered the age at which they became sexually active. Furstenburg et al. (1987) have shown that attending school in integrated, rather than segregated, classrooms substantially lowers the odds that 15-to-16-year-old Black girls will experience sexual intercourse. Brooks-Gunn et al. (1993) found that the probability of giving birth before age 29 rose markedly as the percentage of high-income families fell.

In a dynamic longitudinal analysis that followed young Black men

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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and women from ages 15 to 30, Massey and Shibuya (1995) found that young men who live in neighborhoods of concentrated male joblessness are more likely to be jobless themselves, controlling for individual and family characteristics, and that Black women in such neighborhoods were significantly less likely to get married.

Massey and Shibuya (1995) also linked concentrated disadvantage to higher probabilities of criminality, a link well-documented by Krivo and Peterson (1996) using aggregate data. The concentration of criminal activity that accompanies the concentration of deprivation accelerates the process of neighborhood transition and, for Blacks, resegregation (Morenoff and Sampson, 1997); it also helps drive up rates of Black-on-Black mortality, which have reached heights unparalleled for any other group (Almgren et al., 1998; Guest et al., 1998). The spatial concentration of crime presents special problems for the Black middle class, who must adopt extreme strategies to insulate their children from the temptations and risks of the street (Anderson, 1990; Patillo, 1998).

The quantitative evidence thus suggests that any process that concentrates poverty within racially isolated neighborhoods will simultaneously increase the odds of socioeconomic failure within the segregated group. People who grow up and live in environments of concentrated poverty and social isolation are more likely to become teenage parents, drop out of school, achieve low educations, earn lower adult incomes, and become involved with crime—either as perpetrator or victim.

One study has directly linked the socioeconomic disadvantages suffered by individual minority members to the degree of segregation they experience in society. Using individual, community, and metropolitan data from the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in 1980, Massey et al. (1991) showed that group segregation and poverty rates interacted to concentrate poverty geographically within neighborhoods, and that exposure to neighborhood poverty subsequently increased the probability of male joblessness and single motherhood among group members. In this fashion, they linked the structural condition of segregation to individual behaviors widely associated with the underclass through the intervening factor of neighborhood poverty, holding individual and family characteristics constant. As the structural factor controlling poverty concentration, segregation is directly responsible for the perpetuation of socioeconomic disadvantage among Blacks.

THE ROAD AHEAD

This review yields several well-supported conclusions about residential segregation in the United States at the end of the twentieth century.

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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  • First, the extreme segregation of Blacks continues unabated in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, and is far more severe than anything experienced by Hispanics or Asians.

  • Second, this unique segregation can in no way be attributed to class.

  • Third, although Whites now accept open housing in principle, they have yet to come to terms with its implications in practice. Whites still harbor strong anti-Black sentiments and are unwilling to live with more than a small percentage of Blacks in the neighborhood. As a result, declines in Black-White segregation have been confined almost entirely to metropolitan areas where few Blacks live.

  • Fourth, color prejudice apparently extends to dark-skinned Hispanics, and discrimination against both Blacks and Afro-Hispanics is remarkably widespread in U.S. housing markets. Through a variety of deceptions and exclusionary actions, Black access to housing in White neighborhoods is systematically reduced.

  • Fifth, White biases and discrimination apparently do not extend to Asians or light-skinned Hispanics, at least to the same degree. In no metropolitan area are Asians or Hispanics hypersegregated; and despite the recent arrival of large numbers of immigrants and rapid rates of population growth, they display levels of segregation and isolation that are far below those of Blacks.

  • Sixth, as a result of segregation, poor Blacks are forced to live in conditions of intensely concentrated poverty. Recent shifts in U.S. socioeconomic structure and patterns of class segregation have interacted with Black segregation to produce unusual concentrations of poverty among Blacks. Poor Blacks are far more likely to grow up and live in neighborhoods surrounded by other poor people than poor Whites, Hispanics, or Asians.

  • Finally, as a result of their prolonged exposure to high rates of neighborhood poverty, Blacks experience much higher risks of educational failure, joblessness, unwed childbearing, crime, and premature death compared with other groups.

Given the central role that residence plays in determining one’s life chances, these results suggest the need to incorporate the effects of racial segregation more fully into theories about the perpetuation of poverty and the origins of the urban underclass. These results also suggest the need to incorporate desegregation efforts more directly into public policies developed to ameliorate urban poverty. All too often, U.S. policy debates have devolved into arguments about the relative importance of race versus class. The issue, however, is not whether race or class per-

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
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petuates the urban underclass, but how race and class interact to undermine the social and economic well-being of Black Americans.

Public policies must address both race and class issues if they are to be successful. Race-conscious steps need to be taken to dismantle the institutional apparatus of segregation, and class-specific policies must be implemented to improve the socioeconomic status of Blacks. By themselves, programs targeting low-income Blacks will fail because they will be swamped by powerful environmental influences arising from the disastrous neighborhood conditions that Blacks experience because of segregation. Likewise, efforts to reduce segregation will falter unless Blacks acquire the socioeconomic resources that enable them to take full advantage of urban housing markets and the benefits they provide.

Eliminating residential segregation will require the direct involvement of the federal government to an unprecedented degree, and two departments—Housing and Urban Development, and Justice—must throw their institutional weight behind fair-housing enforcement if residential desegregation is to occur. If the ghetto is to be dismantled, HUD, in particular must intervene forcefully in eight ways.

  1. HUD must increase its financial assistance to local fair-housing organizations to enhance their ability to investigate and prosecute individual complaints of housing discrimination. Grants made to local agencies dedicated to fair-housing enforcement will enable them to expand their efforts by hiring more legal staff, implementing more extensive testing programs, and making their services more widely available.

  2. HUD should establish a permanent testing program capable of identifying realtors who engage in a pattern and practice of discrimination. A special unit dedicated to the regular administration of housing audits should be created in HUD under the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Audits of randomly selected realtors should be conducted annually within metropolitan areas that have large Black communities, and when evidence of systematic discrimination is uncovered, the department should compile additional evidence and turn it over to the Attorney General for vigorous prosecution. Initially these audits should be targeted to hypersegregated cities.

  3. A staff should be created at HUD under the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to scrutinize lending data for unusually high rates of rejection among minority applicants and Black neighborhoods. When the rejection rates cannot be explained statistically by social, demographic, economic, credit histories, or other background factors, a systematic case study of the lending institution’s practices should be initiated. If clear evidence of discrimination is uncovered, the case should be referred to the Attorney General for prosecution, and/or an

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×

equal-opportunity lending plan should be conciliated, implemented, and monitored.

  1. Funding for housing-certificate programs, authorized under Section 8 of the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act, should be expanded, and programs modeled on the Gautreaux Demonstration Project or the Move to Opportunity Program should be more widely implemented. Black public-housing residents in Chicago who moved into integrated settings through this demonstration project have been shown to have had greater success in education and employment than a comparable group who remained behind in the ghetto (see Rosenbaum et al., 1988; Rosenbaum and Popkin, 1991; Rosenbaum, 1991).

  2. Given the overriding importance of residential mobility to individual well-being, hate crimes directed against Blacks moving into White neighborhoods must be considered more severe than ordinary acts of vandalism or assault. Rather than being left only to local authorities, they should be prosecuted at the federal level as violations of the victim’s civil rights. Stiff financial penalties and jail terms should be imposed, not in recognition of the severity of the vandalism or violence itself, but to acknowledge the serious damage that segregation does to our national well-being.

  3. HUD should work to strengthen the Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement, a pact between HUD and the National Association of Realtors, instituted during the Ford Administration. The agreement originally established a network of housing resource boards to enforce the Fair Housing Act with support from HUD; during the Reagan Administration, funds were cut and the agreement was modified to relieve realtors of responsibility for fair-housing enforcement. New regulations also prohibited the use of testers by local resource boards and made secret the list of real estate boards that had signed the agreement. In strengthening this agreement, this list should once again be made public, the use of testers should be encouraged, and the responsibilities of realtors to enforce the Fair Housing Act should be spelled out explicitly.

  4. HUD should establish new programs and expand existing programs to train realtors in fair-housing marketing procedures, especially those serving Black neighborhoods. Agents serving primarily White clients should be instructed about advertising and marketing methods to ensure that Blacks in segregated communities gain access to information about housing opportunities outside the ghetto, whereas agents serving primarily Black clients should be trained to market homes throughout the metropolitan area, and instructed especially in how to use multiple-listing services. HUD officials and local fair-housing groups should carefully monitor whether realtors serving Blacks are given access to multiple-listing services.

Suggested Citation:"13. Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9599.
×
  1. The Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at HUD must take a more active role in overseeing real estate advertising and marketing practices, two areas that have received insufficient federal attention in the past. Realtors in selected metropolitan areas should be sampled and their advertising and marketing practices regularly examined for conformity with federal fair-housing regulations. HUD should play a larger role in ensuring that Black home seekers are not systematically and deliberately overlooked by prevailing marketing practices.

For the most part, these policies do not require major changes in legislation. What they require is political will. Given the will to end segregation, the necessary funds and legislative measures will follow. For America, failure to end segregation will perpetuate a bitter dilemma that has long divided the nation. If segregation is permitted to continue, poverty inevitably will deepen and become more persistent within a large share of the Black community, crime and drugs will become more firmly rooted, and social institutions will fragment further under the weight of deteriorating conditions. As racial inequality sharpens, White fears will grow, racial prejudices will be reinforced, and hostility toward Blacks will increase, making the problems of racial justice and equal opportunity even more insoluble. Until we decide to end the long reign of American apartheid, we cannot hope to move forward as a people and a nation.

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Next: 14. Geography and Apportunity »
America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I Get This Book
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The 20th Century has been marked by enormous change in terms of how we define race. In large part, we have thrown out the antiquated notions of the 1800s, giving way to a more realistic, sociocultural view of the world. The United States is, perhaps more than any other industrialized country, distinguished by the size and diversity of its racial and ethnic minority populations. Current trends promise that these features will endure. Fifty years from now, there will most likely be no single majority group in the United States. How will we fare as a nation when race-based issues such as immigration, job opportunities, and affirmative action are already so contentious today?

In America Becoming, leading scholars and commentators explore past and current trends among African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans in the context of a white majority. This volume presents the most up-to-date findings and analysis on racial and social dynamics, with recommendations for ongoing research. It examines compelling issues in the field of race relations, including:

  • Race and ethnicity in criminal justice.
  • Demographic and social trends for Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.
  • Trends in minority-owned businesses.
  • Wealth, welfare, and racial stratification.
  • Residential segregation and the meaning of "neighborhood."
  • Disparities in educational test scores among races and ethnicities.
  • Health and development for minority children, adolescents, and adults.
  • Race and ethnicity in the labor market, including the role of minorities in America's military.
  • Immigration and the dynamics of race and ethnicity.
  • The changing meaning of race.
  • Changing racial attitudes.

This collection of papers, compiled and edited by distinguished leaders in the behavioral and social sciences, represents the most current literature in the field. Volume 1 covers demographic trends, immigration, racial attitudes, and the geography of opportunity. Volume 2 deals with the criminal justice system, the labor market, welfare, and health trends. Both books will be of great interest to educators, scholars, researchers, students, social scientists, and policymakers.

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