Racial Residential Segregation in American Cities

Leah Platt Boustan

in The Oxford Handbook of Urban Economics and Planning

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195380620
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Racial Residential Segregation in American Cities

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  • Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics



This article examines the causes and consequences of residential segregation in the metropolitan areas of the United States, with an emphasis on segregation between black and white households. In theory, residential segregation may be generated by black selfsegregation, collective action to exclude blacks from white neighborhoods, or individual moves by white households away from integrated neighborhoods. Understanding the causes of residential segregation is important if segregation has negative social or economic consequences, either for the minority residents or for the whole society. Over the past few decades, increasing residential segregation has taken place between jurisdictions in a metropolitan area rather than between neighborhoods within a jurisdiction. Potential policy solutions to residential segregation can be classified as place-based policies, people-based policies, or indirect solutions. Given legal constraints, public policy to counteract residential segregation will need to be formally race-neutral, targeting neighborhoods or individuals on the basis of income rather than race.

Keywords: residential segregation; metropolitan areas; black and white households; economic consequences; place-based policies; people-based policies; indirect solutions

Article.  9841 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics

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