Residential segregation lingering problem in U.S.-study

NEW YORK, May 31 (Reuters) - Multiethnic neighborhoods have increased in the United States in recent decades but not many white and black families are moving into them, according to new study published on Thursday.

Researchers who analyzed the mobility trends of more than 100,000 families in metropolitan areas over nearly three decades found that the majority of blacks and whites continue to live in neighborhoods with high concentrations of residents of their own race.

“The truth is, when it comes to eliminating residential segregation, we still have a long way to go,” said Kyle Crowder, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“We have more neighborhoods that are potential destinations for white and black movers, and certainly more are moving to these places than used to, but still the model category is movement between these predominately white and black neighborhoods.”

Crowder, who reported the findings in the American Sociological Review journal, said most multiethnic neighborhoods are populated mainly by Latino and Asian families.

Nearly 44 percent of black families tracked in the study moved to a predominately black area, five percent relocated to a mostly white community and 17.7 selected a multiethnic neighborhood, which was at least 10 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic or Asian and at least 40 percent white.

The numbers were similar for white families.

Slightly more than 55 percent of the 8,823 moves made by white families from 1997 to 2005 were to white communities, two percent were to predominately black neighborhoods and 5.6 percent were to multiethnic areas.


When Crowder and his colleagues delved deeper, looking into where families from predominantly black and predominately white neighborhoods relocated, the results were even more striking.

“We’re really looking at the connection between what we call origins and destinations, so what kinds of neighborhoods people start out in and looking at what kinds of places they end up in,” Crowder explained.

“It becomes really interesting when you look at origins. It gives this picture of churning of the white population within a predominately white area and churning of the black population within a predominately black neighborhood.”

Sixty percent of families leaving black neighborhoods moved to a similar community and nearly 75 percent of whites transitioned from a mostly white neighborhood to another white area.

Only about 19 percent of blacks and 2.4 percent of whites moved to a multiethnic neighborhood.

The researchers, who used data from various sources including the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationally representative survey of U.S. residents, and the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses, uncovered variations among the 300 metropolitan areas in the study.

Both whites and blacks were more likely to move to diverse areas with new housing, while there was more of the churning effect in older neighborhoods.

“The dominant mode is moving within racially stratified neighborhoods. And this is a problem because the effects of segregation are so insidious in terms of racial differences, access to quality schools, racial and ethnic differences in exposure to crime and pollution, and racial and ethnic difference in terms of concentrated poverty,” said Crowder.

“We still need to remain diligent about residential segregation and the processes that lead to it.” (Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by Paul Casciato)