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Racial Segregation in US Metropolitan Areas and Cities, 1990-2000: Patterns, Trends, and Explanations

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionFrey, William H., and Dowell Myers. 2005. "Racial Segregation in US Metropolitan Areas and Cities, 1990-2000: Patterns, Trends, and Explanations." PSC Research Report No. 05-573. April 2005.

This report provides a comprehensive overview of 1990 and 2000 neighborhood dissimilarity indices measured for Blacks and Whites, Asians and Whites, and Hispanics and Whites among the nation’s 318 metropolitan areas, as well as 1,220 places with populations exceeding 25,000 in 2000. It also evaluates social, economic and demographic metropolitan area factors associated with metropolitan-level segregation. We find Black-White segregation is declining fairly consistently for most metropolitan areas and cities. Hispanic-White segregation is on the increase for about half of the cities, and most metropolitan areas. Yet, Asian-White segregation is on the decline in most metropolitan areas and places. Despite these pervasive patterns, many changes for individual areas are small, preserving the long-standing national ‘pecking order’ of segregation for different racial and ethnic groups. We also find that location in metropolitan areas that are ‘multi-ethnic’—with strong representation of two or more minority groups—tends to be associated with declining levels of Black-White segregation at both the metropolitan area level and at the city level, but has less consistent effects on the segregation levels of other race- and ethnic groups. However, given the continued clustering of Hispanics and Asians in different metropolitan areas across the country and their continued mixing within those metropolitan areas, these findings suggest that significant linkages exist between metropolitan demographic shifts and city segregation dynamics.

Country of focus: United States.

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