Cities Less Segregated, Study Shows

Two fellows at the Manhattan Institute have analyzed data from 13 American population counts to track the rise and, more recently, the decline of racial segregation in American cities. The report, The End of the Segregated Century: Racial Separation in America’s Neighborhoods, 1890-2010, by Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor presents four main findings:

  1. The most standard segregation measure shows that American cities are now more integrated than they’ve been since 1910.
  2. All-white neighborhoods are effectively extinct.
  3. Gentrification and immigration have made a dent in segregation.
  4. Ghetto neighborhoods persist, but most are in decline.

The report uses the census data to provide a very informative historical survey of racial segregation in American cities. Do the report’s key findings match your observations in your community?

—Tim Hill

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10 thoughts on “Cities Less Segregated, Study Shows

  1. I feel as though the lack of progress America has made in addressing the substantial achievement gap between whites and minorities is more saddening than the decline in residential segregation is glorifiable.

  2. The article’s appendix lists St. Louis city as having a dissimilarity index of 71.0 and an isolation index of 53.8. These seem like fairly substantial numbers, much higher than a lot of the other cities on the list. For a resident of the city, these numbers aren’t surprising (unfortunately). St. Louis seems to be a notoriously segregated city, and the economic disparities between white and black neighborhoods are quite bleak. While the article presents some good information, I agree with Kal that it puts too positive a spin on a serious problem in our communities.

    • I agree with what Kal has to say. I also believe that the statement white neighborhoods are nearly none existantis completely false at least for the suburbs of St. Louis county.

  3. While I agree with Kal and Colin that there are still some serious segregation issues that are facing our community, I think that the study does warrant attention. The fact that the city is becoming less segregated hopefully signifies that racial tolerance is growing. We should be excited about this…little things could signify the beginning of bigger social changes.

    • That’s a very good point, Maggie. The trendline in the article shows a steady decline in segregation since the 1970s, and it is important to remember that historical transformation is often the result of gradual change and doesn’t happen dramatically overnight.

    • I agree Maggie. I feel that even though there are issues with segregation, if the numbers are on a decline then that is one step farther. Even though those are high numbers, I feel as if we keep working at it, the numbers will keep falling

  4. I agree with all the above concepts, however I still stand by my knoweldge of that even though someone lives in a diverse neighborhood does not neccesarily make them a diverse person.

  5. I agree with Margaret. Little change is better than no change at all. Some cities may be far better off than others but some credit should be given for the progress made up to this point. I would much rather be a part of the St. Louis community now than in 1890, or any other community for that matter.

  6. I’ve grown up in a predominantly white neighborhood/community for 90% of my life and only in the past 5 years or so have I seen a small change in the racial populations in my community. I think that desegregation is slowing happening in some areas and faster in others.

  7. When I first saw this headline, my initial reaction was similar to Kal’s and Colin’s… overall, there may be noted improvements, but here in St. Louis, it seems that we have a long way to go. I am not from St. Louis originally, and I have had a difficult time adjusting to the unfortunate but clear racial lines drawn in this city. Yes, looking at the big picture it is good to hear that segregation is diminishing, but saddening to know that locally we are behind the curve.

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