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Separate and Unequal:
The Neighborhood Gap for Blacks and Hispanics in Metropolitan America


John R. Logan, Director
Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research
University at Albany 

October 13, 2002

  

This report is based on data from the 1990 and 2000 Census of Population analyzed by the Mumford Center staff.?Special contributions were made by Brian Stults, Jacob Stowell, and Deirdre Oakley.?Data for individual metropolitan regions, and for their central city and suburban portions, can be found on the Center’s website:
http://www.s4.brown.edu/cen2000/SepUneq/PublicSeparateUnequal.htm.?The site also includes Metro Monitors with tables and charts that summarize findings for several major metropolitan regions.

 

All racial groups in every major part of the country experienced improvements in their incomes and in the prosperity of their neighborhoods during the 1990-2000 decade.? But analysis of newly released Census 2000 data (Summary File 3) reveal that a decade of widespread prosperity did not yield greater income or neighborhood equality for blacks and Hispanics.? This report assesses where we were at the beginning of the new century in terms of longstanding economic inequalities between racial and ethnic groups.?Because more recent data show that all groups have lost ground in the current recession, we see little hope of changing the persistent pattern of “separate and unequal?for America’s black and Hispanic families. 

We look at two aspects of people’s lives: their own household incomes and the quality of their neighborhoods.?Both are important, and they are surprisingly distinct.?As whites and Asians earn more, they tend to move to neighborhoods that match their own economic standing, with commensurate levels of public services, school quality, safety, and environmental quality.?Due to residential segregation, blacks and Hispanics are less able to move to better neighborhoods.?Despite overall prosperity, the “neighborhood gap?grew in the last decade.?It was larger and it was growing faster for the most affluent blacks and Hispanics (compared to whites with similar incomes) than for those close to the poverty level.?This report demonstrates that separate translates to unequal even for the most successful black and Hispanic minorities. 

Two previous reports, “Regional Divisions Dampen '90s Prosperity?
and “The Suburban Advantage,?evaluated regional differences
and the growing gap between cities and their suburbs.?See http://www.s4.brown.edu/cen2000/CityProfiles/SOCReport/page1.html http://www.s4.brown.edu/cen2000/CityProfiles/SuburbanReport/page1.html.

 

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