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SEGREGATION IN POST-CIVIL RIGHTS AMERICA: Stalled Integration or End of the Segregated Century?

  • Jacob S. Rugh (a1) and Douglas S. Massey (a2)

In this paper we adjudicate between competing claims of persisting segregation and rapid integration by analyzing trends in residential dissimilarity and spatial isolation for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians living in 287 consistently defined metropolitan areas from 1970 to 2010. On average, Black segregation and isolation have fallen steadily but still remain very high in many areas, particularly those areas historically characterized by hypersegregation. In contrast, Hispanic segregation has increased slightly but Hispanic isolation has risen substantially owing to rapid population growth. Asian segregation has changed little and remains moderate, and although Asian isolation has increased it remains at low levels compared with other groups. Whites remain quite isolated from all three minority groups in metropolitan America, despite rising diversity and some shifts toward integration from the minority viewpoint.

Multivariate analyses reveal that minority segregation and spatial isolation are actively produced in some areas by restrictive density zoning regimes, large and/or rising minority percentages, lagging minority socioeconomic status, and active expressions of anti-Black and anti-Latino sentiment, especially in large metropolitan areas. Areas displaying these characteristics are either integrating very slowly (in the case of Blacks) or becoming more segregated (in the case of Hispanics), whereas those lacking these attributes are clearly moving toward integration, often quite rapidly.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Jacob S. Rugh, Department of Sociology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602. E-mail:
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