Racial Separation at Home and Work: Segregation in Residential and Workplace Settings

  • Matthew HallEmail author
  • John Iceland
  • Youngmin Yi
Original Research


Racial segregation has long characterized urban life in the U.S., with research consistently showing that minority groups occupy different social spaces than whites. While past scholarship has focused largely on residential contexts, a considerable portion of individuals’ days is spent outside of the home and existing research misses the potential for cross-group contact in non-residential contexts. In this paper, we assess the levels and patterns of segregation in the environments where people spend their workday, for white, black, Hispanic, and Asian workers. Using commuting data from the Census Transportation Planning Package, we construct measures of racial composition in “workhoods” and compare metropolitan-level segregation in places of work and home. Results indicate that workhood segregation is substantially lower than residential segregation. Black-white segregation in work settings is, for example, half the level of black-white segregation in residential settings. Multivariate analyses also reveal that workhood segregation, for all groups, is higher in metropolitan areas with greater residential segregation. For Hispanic workers, areas with larger immigrant populations have higher workhood segregation, and for blacks, workhood segregation is lower in metropolitan areas with large military populations. Our findings also consistently show that black and Hispanic workhood segregation is lower in areas where minority groups are more occupationally disadvantaged.


Segregation Race/ethnicity Workplaces 



We are grateful to Steven Alvarado, Mike Bader, Kendra Bischoff, Erin York Cornwell, Anna Haskins, Dan Lichter, Brian McKenzie, Jeremy Pais, Jake Rugh, Laura Tach, and Nate Walters for comments on earlier versions of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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