Study: Segregation Still Prevalent in U.S. Neighborhoods

American neighborhoods still remain mostly segregated with blacks predominantly living in one area and whites another, according to a new study in the June issue of the American Sociological Review.

“Blacks tend to originate in neighborhoods with very high concentrations of blacks and, when they move, they tend to move to other places that have very high concentrations of blacks. Their typical destination is not a multiethnic neighborhood. The same is even more true for whites,” says lead author of the study Kyle Crowder, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington.

Researchers evaluated the mobility patterns of more than 44,000 black families and 57,000 white families between 1977 and 2005.

The researchers found that of nearly 10,000 moves made by black families between 1977 and 2005, 43 percent were to predominantly black neighborhoods, 5 percent were to predominantly white neighborhoods, and nearly 18 percent were to multiethnic neighborhoods (which is defined as neighborhoods that have populations that are at least 10 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic or Asian, and at least 40 percent white).

Of more than 8,800 moves tracked by white families during that period, the researchers found that nearly 57 percent were to predominantly white neighborhoods, 2 percent were to predominantly black neighborhoods, and 5.6 percent were to multiethnic neighborhoods.

“When it comes to eliminating residential segregation, we still have a long way to go,” Crowder says. “This becomes particularly clear when we look at the high percentage of black families from predominately black neighborhoods and the even higher percentage of white families from predominately white neighborhoods who wind up in homogeneous communities when they move.”

However, depending on the economic, political, and spacial features of a metro area, researchers found whites and blacks living in more integrated neighborhoods. For example, they found that metro areas where segregation is likely more prevalent tended to have high concentrations of poverty and a high percentage of the population living in the suburbs.

“Lower levels of these characteristics promote integration,” Crowder says. “Additionally, mobility into more diverse neighborhoods is more common in metropolitan areas with large supplies of new housing and relatively large concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities.”

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