The Flight of Whites: A Multilevel Analysis of Why Whites Move

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

PDF Harris, David R. "The Flight of Whites: A Multilevel Analysis of Why Whites Move." PSC Research Report No. 97-386. 4 1997.

This paper considers the question, "Why do whites move?" Geocoded data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics is used to examine the effects of neighborhood racial composition, neighborhood socioeconomic status, household traits, dwelling characteristics, and geographic setting on white mobility incidence. Findings indicate that individual-level characteristics are consistently strong predictors of whether whites will move. In contrast, racial and class composition are rarely reliable predictors of mobility incidence. A notable exception is the case of white families with children approaching school age. These families are almost six times more likely to move if they live in a neighborhood that is at least 20% black instead of one that is less than 6% black. My findings suggest that while "white flight" may be an inappropriate characterization of whites' moves in general, there is evidence to support the claim that whites with children are seeking to escape black neighbors.

Dataset(s): Geocoded Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID): U.S., 1980-1985.

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