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Preferences and Pathways to Segregation: Reply to Van de Rijt, Siegel, and Macy

Publication Abstract

Bruch, Elizabeth Eve, and Robert D. Mare. 2009. "Preferences and Pathways to Segregation: Reply to Van de Rijt, Siegel, and Macy." American Journal of Sociology, 114(4): 1181-1198.

Although we acknowledge and present corrections of errors in our 2006 article, we believe that our original conclusions regarding the effects of the form of individual preferences on segregation dynamics are correct. Our 2006 article reported an investigation of the links between how people evaluate neighborhoods and aggregate segregation dynamics. We emphasized that the shape of residential choice functions (i.e., how individuals evaluate and choose neighborhoods) has important implications for segregation dynamics. Simulations based on our corrected code show that, as Van de Rijt et al. report, hypothetical monotonic, continuous functions with a sufficiently strong response to the racial makeup of a neighborhood (the coefficient β in the functions that describe residential choice) can generate segregation and that empirical preference functions based on Detroit Area Study (DAS) data are consistent with high segregation. However, our argument that “regions of indifference” across neighborhoods with varying ethnic composition (a key feature of threshold functions) play an important role in segregation dynamics still holds. Moreover, as we show below, the shape of residential preference functions affects segregation dynamics through other pathways as well.

DOI:10.1086/597599 (Full Text)

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Country of focus: United States.

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