Homeownership, a symbol of the American dream, is one of the primary ways through which families accumulate wealth, particularly for blacks and Hispanics. Surprisingly, no study has explicitly documented the segregation of minority owners and renters from whites. Using data from Census 2000, this study aims to fill this gap. Analyses here reveal that the segregation of black renters relative to whites is significantly lower than the segregation of black owners from whites, controlling for relevant socioeconomic and demographic factors, contrary to the notion that homeownership represents an endpoint in the residential assimilation process. The patterns for Hispanics and Asians conform more to expectations under the spatial assimilation model. The findings here suggest that race and ethnicity continue to be as important in shaping residential segregation as socioeconomic status, and raise concerns about the benefits of homeownership, particularly for blacks.
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Studies like those by the Taeubers (see Taeuber and Taeuber 1965) have indirectly shown that segregation between minorities and whites is lower among renters as compared with owners, but such studies do not calculate segregation measures by housing tenure.
Although more recent data would be preferable to use, the key, group-specific independent variables used in the multivariate analysis (e.g., the ratio of black owner median income to white median income; the ratio of black renter median income to white median income) are unavailable from either of the publicly available versions of the 2010 census or the American Community Surveys (ACS).
Steering was not measured in the rental market in the HDS.
Minority neighborhoods are neighborhoods where the racial composition is at least 30 % nonwhite.
The analysis here is cross-sectional and is unable to ascertain the lifetime segregation of a given individual who may transition within and between housing tenure statuses. Our results could overstate the level of segregation between white and minority homeowners because we might be capturing minorities who have been “trapped” in neighborhoods that have deteriorated. Prior analyses of recent homebuyers (Fischer and Lowe 2011), however, found the same patterns of segregation shown here.
We use the terms “non-Hispanic white” and “white” interchangeably throughout the article. There is some overlap between the black and Hispanic categories because we use predefined categories from SF1 of Census 2000. We do not use SF2, which would allow us to define mutually exclusive racial and ethnic categories, because there are significant levels of data suppression at the census-tract level of analysis.
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We thank Eric Fong, Glenn Deane, Nancy Denton, Scott South, and several anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Support for this research was provided by a grant to the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the University at Albany from NICHD (R24 HD044943).
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Friedman, S., Tsao, Hs. & Chen, C. Housing Tenure and Residential Segregation in Metropolitan America. Demography 50, 1477–1498 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-012-0184-y
- Residential segregation
- Housing tenure
- Socioeconomic status