We estimate the effects of residential racial segregation on socio-economic outcomes for native-born Latino young adults over the past three decades. Using individual public use micro-data samples from the Census and a novel instrumental variable, we find that higher levels of metropolitan area segregation have negative effects on Latino young adults’ likelihood of being either employed or in school, on the likelihood of working in a professional occupation, and on income.
Latinos seem to be inheriting the segregated urban structures experienced by African Americans and, to a similar extent, the diminished social and economic outcomes associated with segregation. This brief examines the relationships between metropolitan segregation levels and socioeconomic outcomes for Latinos and African Americans and explores mechanisms to explain these relationships. It finds that in more segregated metropolitan areas, both native-born Latinos and African Americans are significantly less likely compared with whites to graduate from high school and college, are more likely than whites to be neither working nor in school. Additionally, higher levels of segregation are associated with dramatic reductions in earnings for both African Americans and Latinos relative to whites. The research brief summarizes the findings of the article, Desvinculado y Desigual: Is Segregation Harmful to Latinos? (PDF), which was published in the July 2015 edition of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. See the press release or read the key findings.
Despite the high levels of metropolitan area segregation experienced by Latinos, there is a lack of research examining the effects of segregation on Latino socio-economic outcomes and whether those effects differ from the negative effects documented for African Americans. The authors find that segregation is consistently associated with lower levels of educational attainment and labor market success for both African-American and Latino young adults compared to whites, with associations of similar magnitudes for both groups. One mechanism through which segregation may influence outcomes is the difference in the levels of neighborhood human capital to which whites, Latinos, and African Americans are exposed. The authors find that higher levels of segregation are associated with lower black and Latino neighborhood exposure to residents with college degrees, relative to whites. They also find support for other commonly-discussed mechanisms, such as exposure to neighborhood violent crime and the relative proficiency of the closest public school.