The Role of SES in Shaping the Residential Patterns of Whites in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Gregory Sharp, Pennsylvania State University
John Iceland, Pennsylvania State University

Research examining the contribution of racial/ethnic differences in socioeconomic (SES) levels to minority-white segregation has concluded that while class matters, it cannot fully account for the persistently high levels of black-white segregation. In light of increasing racial/ethnic diversity, a racialized foreclosure crisis, and deep economic recession, class arguments remain salient in contemporary discussions of residential segregation. Using data from Census 2000 and the 2006-2010 ACS, we offer new evidence on the role of SES (income, education, poverty) in shaping the residential patterns of whites. We find that white dissimilarity by SES is highest from blacks, but slightly declining, while whites are increasingly segregated from Hispanics and Asians of all SES groups. Cross-sectional and change multivariate models indicate that, consistent with spatial assimilation, high-SES whites are more integrated with minority groups as their SES increases. However, supporting the place stratification model, SES matters more for Hispanics and Asians than for blacks.

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Presented in Session 38: Residential Segregation