Abstract

What accounts for the differences in the kinds of communities within the metropolis in which members of different racial and ethnic groups live? Do socioeconomic advancement and acculturation provide greater integration with whites or access to more desirable locations for minority-group members? Are these effects the same for Asians or Hispanics as for blacks? Does suburbanization offer a step toward greater equality in the housing market, or do minorities find greater discrimination in the suburban housing market? Data from 1980 for five large metropolitan regions are used to estimate “locational-attainment models,” which evaluate the effects of group members’ individual attributes on two measures of the character of their living environment: the socioeconomic standing (median household income) and racial composition (proportion non-Hispanic white) of the census tract where they reside. Separate models predict these outcomes for whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Net of the effects of individuals’ background characteristics, whites live in census tracts with the highest average proportion of white residents and the highest median household income. They are followed by Asians and Hispanics, and—at substantially lower levels—blacks. Large overall differences exist between city and suburban locations; yet the gap between whites and others is consistently lower in the suburbs than in the cities of these five metropolitan regions.

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