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Gender and the Residential Mobility and Neighborhood Attainment of Black-White Couples

Abstract

Including black-white couples in the study of residential stratification accentuates gendered power disparities within couples that favor men over women, which allows for the analysis of whether the race of male partners in black-white couples is associated with the racial and ethnic composition of their neighborhoods. I investigate this by combining longitudinal data between 1985 and 2015 from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics linked to neighborhood- and metropolitan-level data compiled from four censuses. Using these data, I assess the mobility of black male–white female and white male–black female couples out of and into neighborhoods defined respectively by their levels of whites, blacks, and ethnoracial diversity. My results show that the race of the male partner in black-white couples tends to align with the racial and ethnic composition of the neighborhoods where these couples reside. This finding highlights that the racial hierarchy within the United States affects the residential mobility and attainment of black-white couples, but its influence is conditioned by the race and gender composition of these couples.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Notes

  1. 1.

    The PSID defines long-term cohabiters as those coupled with a sample member with whom they have shared a residence for at least 12 months.

  2. 2.

    Members of couples whose relationships end during the study period are removed from the analysis for the remaining years. However, they may return to the sample if they form another union.

  3. 3.

    The other category consists of Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaska Natives, those who claim multiracial status, and some other race.

  4. 4.

    Models are estimated using the xt suite commands in Stata 14 (StataCorp 2015).

  5. 5.

    Random coefficients are not estimated in both the three-level random-intercepts logistic and the three-level random-intercepts linear regression models in this analysis.

  6. 6.

    With racially mixed people appearing in the U.S. Census beginning in 2000, measures of entropy could be affected. I conducted a supplemental analysis in which I excluded those who claimed a mixed-race status in the 2000 and 2010 censuses from the entropy measures and then reestimated the models presented in Tables 2 and 3. The results from this supplemental analysis are highly similar to those reported in the article and are available in Online Resource 1.

  7. 7.

    The use of census tracts as proxies for neighborhoods raises questions about the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem in the likelihood of residential out-mobility across couple categories given that moves of a given distance are more likely to be classified as intertract if the tracts are small. Supplemental analysis reveals that controlling for tract size in square miles in the models predicting the likelihood of out-mobility does not alter the substantive findings of the results presented in Table 2. See Online Resource 1 for these results.

  8. 8.

    In an analysis available in Online Resource 1, I explored whether the predicted values presented in Figs. 2 and 3 differ if the remaining covariates are held at their means or their observed values. The predicted values for the out-mobility models across couple categories with covariates held at their means are all lower than when the covariates are at their observed values. The predicted values for ethnoracial composition in destination neighborhood when family income is allowed to vary are highly similar when the covariates are held at their means or estimated using observed values.

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Acknowledgments

I thank Kyle Crowder, Stewart Tolnay, Charles Hirschman, Mark Ellis, Christina Hughes, Tim Heaton, Cardell Jacobsen, the Editors of Demography, and anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

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Correspondence to Ryan Gabriel.

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Gabriel, R. Gender and the Residential Mobility and Neighborhood Attainment of Black-White Couples. Demography 55, 459–484 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-018-0648-9

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Keywords

  • Mixed-race couples
  • Gender
  • Residential mobility
  • Neighborhoods