Publications

  • Author: Ingrid Gould Ellen ×
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  • Sharing America’s Neighborhoods: The Prospects for Stable, Racial Integration

    Instead of panic and “white flight” causing the rapid breakdown of racially integrated neighborhoods, the author argues, contemporary racial change is driven primarily by the decision of white households not to move into integrated neighborhoods when they are moving for reasons unrelated to race.

  • Race-Based Neighborhood Projection: A Proposed Framework for Understanding New Data

    This paper outlines the race-based, neighbourhood projection hypothesis which holds that, in choosing neighbourhoods, households care less about present racial composition than they do about expectations about future neighbourhood conditions, such as school quality, property values and crime. Race remains relevant, however, since households tend to associate a growing minority presence with structural decline. Using a unique data-set that links households to their neighbourhoods, this paper estimates both exit and entry models and then constructs a simple simulation model that predicts the course of racial change in different communities. Doing so, the paper concludes that the empirical evidence is more consistent with the race-based projection hypothesis than with other common explanations for neighbourhood racial transition.

  • No Easy Answers: Cautionary Notes for Competitive Cities

    Leaders of American cities seeking to foster economic growth often look to success stories from other cities, hoping to find models and strategies to replicate. Some favorite strategies include investing in infrastructure, lowering taxes (both overall and in a targeted fashion), building sports stadiums, picking and promoting particular industries (such as "high tech"), and investing in casino gambling. But many benefits of those popular success stories are at best exaggerated and at worst apocryphal. Although the strategies sound appealing, and although each may have worked in particular well-publicized circumstances, as gambling did in Las Vegas, they are typically not successful and policymakers should be cautious in pursuing them.

  • New White Flight? The Dynamics of Neighborhood Change in the 1980s

    The rapid rise in immigration over the past few decades has transformed the American social landscape, while the need to understand its impact on society has led to a burgeoning research literature. Predominantly non-European and of varied cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, the new immigrants present analytic challenges that cannot be wholly met by traditional immigration studies.

  • Is Segregation Bad for Your Health? The Case of Low Birth Weight

    This paper explores the relationship between racial segregation and racial disparities in the prevalence of low birth weight. The paper has two parallel motivations. First, the disparities between black and white mothers in birth outcomes are large and persistent. Second, while there is a growing literature on the costs of racial segregation it has largely focused on economic outcomes such as education and employment.

  • Spatial Stratification within US Metropolitan Areas

    In most metropolitan areas, central cities and older, inner-ring suburbs tend to have lower-skilled and less affluent populations, lower tax bases, as well as more deteriorated housing stocks and infrastructures, than their newer, outer-ring suburban neighbors. And the segregation becomes even more apparent if comparisons are made across individual neighborhoods within these jurisdictions. The first section, in order to set the stage, documents the magnitude of the spatial and jurisdictional disparities within the average metropolitan area and determines how these have changed in recent years. Many researchers go no further and thus overlook the surprising diversity found across different metropolitan areas in the magnitude of disparities. This paper, however, makes this variation its central concern. To this end, the second section classifies metropolitan areas on the basis of the magnitude of their central-city-suburban disparities and identifies certain metropolitan-area characteristics (such as population size, the degree of racial segregation, and the elasticity of the central-city boundaries) that are correlated with greater and lesser disparities. The third section then estimates a simple, cross-sectional regression that tests which, if any, of these correlations persist after controlling for other factors. Although more definitive conclusions regarding the precise causes of the jurisdictional disparities would be desirable, they would require further statistical analysis that lies outside the scope of this particular project.

  • Stable, Racial Integration in the Contemporary United States: An Empirical Overview

    This article presents a broad empirical overview of the extent of racial integration in the contemporary United States. It begins with a discussion of how to measure stable racial integration in neighborhoods. Then, examining data from 34 metropolitan areas, it shows that while integrated neighborhoods containing blacks and whites are considerably less stable than more homogeneous communities, a majority remain integrated over time. Moreover, integration appears to be growing more viable, with racially integrated communities more likely to be stable during the 1980s than during the previous decade. The growing prevalence of stable, racially integrated neighborhoods is an important fact, running counter to the popular, and often self-fulfilling, view that integration is unviable. These communities offer important research opportunities as well. A better understanding of the circumstances under which racial integration seems to succeed will ultimately shed light on the causes of America’s undeniably extreme level of segregation.

  • Welcome Neighbors? New Evidence on the Possibility of Stable Racial Integration

    The conventional wisdom on racial integration in the United States is that there are three kinds of neighborhoods: the all-white neighborhood, the all-black neighborhood, and the exceedingly rare, highly unstable, racially mixed neighborhood. The only real disagreement is about why so few neighborhoods are successfully integrated. Some attribute it to white discrimination pure and simple: whites, that is, have consciously and determinedly excluded blacks from their communities. Others contend that it is a matter of minority choice. Like Norwegians in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge and Italians in Manhattan's Little Italy, African Americans, they explain, prefer to live among their own kind. Finally, others maintain that segregation is driven mainly by income differences across racial groups. But almost all agree that when African Americans do manage to gain a foothold in a previously all-white community, the whites move away in droves—a phenomenon well known as "white flight." Integration is no more than, in the words of Saul Alinsky, the "time between when the first black moves in and last white moves out."

  • Does Neighborhood Matter? Assessing Recent Evidence

    This article synthesizes findings from a wide range of empirical research into how neighborhoods affect families and children. It lays out a conceptual framework for understanding how neighborhoods may affect people at different life stages. It then identifies methodological challenges, summarizes past research findings, and suggests priorities for future work.