Racial Residential Segregation in American Cities
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.
This chapter was prepared for the Handbook of Urban Economics and Planning, eds. Nancy Brooks, Kieran Donaghy and Gerrit Knaap. Oxford University Press. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.