NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Racial Residential Segregation in American Cities

Leah Platt Boustan

NBER Working Paper No. 19045
Issued in May 2013
NBER Program(s):   DAE

This chapter examines the causes and consequences of black-white residential segregation in the United States. Segregation can arise through black self-segregation, collective action to exclude blacks from white neighborhoods, or individual mobility of white households. Historically, whites used racially restrictive covenants and violence to exclude blacks from white areas. More recently, white departures from integrated neighborhoods is a more important factor. Many studies find that blacks who live in segregated metropolitan areas have lower educational attainment and lower earnings than their counterparts in more integrated areas. This difference appears to reflect the causal effect of segregation on economic outcomes. The association between segregated environments and minority disadvantage is driven in part by physical isolation of black neighborhoods from employment opportunities and in part by harmful social interactions within black neighborhoods, especially due to concentrated poverty. The chapter ends by reviewing potential policy solutions to residential segregation, which can be classified as place-based, people-based, or indirect solutions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19045

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