Toward a New Macro-Segregation? Decomposing Segregation within and between Metropolitan Cities and Suburbs

Daniel T. Lichter, Cornell University
Domenico Parisi, Mississippi State University
Michael Taquino, Mississippi State University

This paper argues for a new macro-segregation, where the locus of racial differentiation within metropolitan regions resides increasingly in places. Specifically, we estimate the Theil index (H) for each of the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas using decennial Census data for 1990-to-2010. Moreover, H, as a measure of metropolitan segregation, can be decomposed into a: (1) within-place component; and (2) between-place component. Our working hypothesis is that places represent political actors that effectively exclude or include different population groups. Our analysis shows that the between-place component represents the majority share of racial residential segregation in most metropolitan areas. The analysis further shows that the recent declines in segregation reflect offsetting trends in the within- and between-place components. Emerging residence patterns call for greater sensitivity to how places are reshaping metropolitan segregation. Ours is an important task in light of the continuing centrifugal drift of whites to suburbs and beyond.

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Presented in Session 41: Residential Segregation