The Rise of the Black Middle Class and Declines in Black-White Segregation, 1970-2009

John Iceland, Pennsylvania State University
Kris Marsh, University of Maryland
Mark Gross, University of Maryland

Black-white segregation has declined gradually but significantly over the past several decades. The goal of this study is to provide a detailed examination of the role of changes in the socioeconomic composition of the black population in explaining this trend. Using data from the 1970 to 2000 decennial censuses and the 2005-2009 American Community Survey we calculate levels of black-white segregation using three common measures (dissimilarity, information theory, and isolation) for a comparable set of metropolitan areas. We analyze the association between socioeconomic characteristics and segregation, and then decompose changes in segregation into change due to the shifting composition of the black population versus other factors, including the changing effect of SES on black segregation over time.

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Presented in Session 30: Racial and Ethnic Segregation and Discrimination