A group of economists who’ve been studying racial segregation for decades released a report on Monday trumpeting “The End of the Segregated Century.” After poring over census results, the researchers concluded that our cities are more integrated than ever before; that all-white neighborhoods “are effectively extinct,” and that there is significantly less housing discrimination than fifty years ago.
The cities showing the greatest decline in segregation were those with large Latino populations, including Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles. On the whole, Rust Belt cities (Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis) saw a lesser decline in segregation. Baltimore was somewhere in the middle. While Dallas’s “dissimiarity index” (which measures how many people live near people of the same race) declined by nearly 40 points since 1970, Baltimore’s dipped by less than 20 points.
But that’s not to say that segregation is no longer a problem. Critics of the study point out that “the average black resident still lives in a neighborhood that is 45 percent black and 36 percent white. At the same time, the average white lives in a neighborhood that is 78 percent white and 7 percent black. Black segregation levels are even higher for children, signaling the continued separation of black and white families across communities with different levels of resources available for schools and other services important for nurturing the next generation.” In other words, we still have a long way to go.
One last surprising finding from the study: Suburbs are often more integrated than cities.