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Does Hypersegregation Matter for Black-White Socioeconomic Disparities?

  • Chris HessEmail author
  • Ryan Gabriel
  • Christine Leibbrand
  • Kyle Crowder


Massey and Denton’s concept of hypersegregation describes how multiple and distinct forms of black-white segregation lead to high levels of black-white stratification. However, numerous studies assessing the association between segregation and racial stratification applied only one or two dimensions of segregation, neglecting how multiple forms of segregation combine to potentially exacerbate socioeconomic disparities between blacks and whites. We address this by using data from the U.S. Census from 1980 to 2010 and data from the American Community Survey from 2012 to 2016 to assess trajectories for black-white disparities in educational attainment, employment, and neighborhood poverty between metropolitan areas with hypersegregation and black-white segregation, as measured by the dissimilarity index. Using a time-varying measure of segregation types, our results indicate that in some cases, hypersegregated metropolitan areas have been associated with larger black-white socioeconomic disparities beyond those found in metropolitan areas that are highly segregated in terms of dissimilarity but are not hypersegregated. However, the contrasts in black-white socioeconomic inequality between hypersegregated metropolitan areas and those with high segregation largely diminish by the 2012 to 2016 observation.


Residential segregation Racial inequality Hypersegregation 



A preliminary draft of this article was presented in Denver at the annual meetings of the Population Association of America, April 28, 2018. Partial support for this research came from a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development research infrastructure grant, P2C HD042828, to the Center for Studies in Demography & Ecology at the University of Washington. We thank Stew Tolnay, Jerry Herting, Matt Hall, the Demography editors, and the four anonymous Demography reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Hess
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ryan Gabriel
    • 2
  • Christine Leibbrand
    • 3
  • Kyle Crowder
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Public Policy and AdministrationRutgers University–CamdenCamdenUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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