Residential segregation increases in the suburbs

A new study looking at 222 US metro areas between 1990 and 2010 finds increasing suburban residential segregation:

While segregation from neighborhood to neighborhood is decreasing (micro-segregation) within metropolitan areas, segregation from suburban communities (e.g., towns, villages, and cities) to other suburban communities within the same metropolitan areas and from major metropolitan cities to their suburban communities is increasing (macro-segregation). In other words, instead of people of different races living in distinct neighborhoods in the same major metropolitan cities and suburban communities, these major cities and suburban communities are becoming increasingly racially homogenous…

“One of our major findings is that suburban communities are becoming more segregated from each other,” Lichter said. “Cities and communities — not just neighborhoods — matter. Over the past decade or so, some suburban communities have become more racially diverse, even as whites have moved out to other growing suburbs farther from the city or have moved back to the city as part of the gentrification process. In the late 1970s, there was a famous study titled, ‘Chocolate City, Vanilla Suburbs,’ which highlighted that blacks generally lived in large cities while whites lived in suburban communities. Our study shows that minority population growth in the suburbs has fundamentally shifted historic patterns of residential segregation in this country.”…

Hence the claim that residential “segregation now taking new form.” This is consistent with other research showing the white flight scenario of the post-World War II decades has become more complex: more minorities and poor people live in the American suburbs but this hasn’t necessarily improved their lot in terms of quality and/or affordable housing, good schools, job opportunities, access to social services, and so on. Suburban communities have a variety of ways to promote racial (and class) homogeneity through means like zoning, minimum housing sizes, and appeals to patriotism. In this way, perhaps the suburban critics were/are right: they could never be the total panacea for the problems of American society.

One thought on “Residential segregation increases in the suburbs

  1. Pingback: The new suburban crisis is… | Legally Sociable

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