, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 1285–1306 | Cite as

Segregation Through the Lens of Housing Unit Transition: What Roles Do the Prior Residents, the Local Micro-Neighborhood, and the Broader Neighborhood Play?



This study focuses on segregation as it plays out at the micro-level of housing unit transition. Employing a unique sample that places housing units into micro-neighborhoods and census tracts, this study tests whether the characteristics of the previous residents of the unit, the local micro-neighborhood, or the broader tract best explain the race/ethnicity of the new residents in a housing unit. The results show that the racial/ethnic composition of the local micro-neighborhood has even stronger effects on the race/ethnicity of the new residents than does the racial/ethnic composition of the broader census tract. The results also reveal that even when the racial/ethnic composition of these two contexts are accounted for, the race/ethnicity of the prior residents has a very strong effect on the race/ethnicity of the new residents. I consider possible explanations for this household-level effect. One new theoretical explanation I put forward is that prospective residents use the race/ethnicity of the prior residents as a signal regarding the neighborhood’s appropriateness for them; I test and find that this hypothesized signaling effect is even stronger in certain micro-neighborhood, neighborhood, and county contexts.


Residential mobility Segregation Signaling theory 


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology, Law and Society and Department of SociologyUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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