A Model of Segregation as a Source of Contextual Advantage

Lincoln Quillian, Northwestern University

A frequently-cited model of why segregation contributes to inequality is that segregation increases the level of contextual advantage experienced by members of advantaged segregated groups and the level of contextual disadvantage of disadvantaged segregated groups. This paper provides a formal demographic model of this process. The model begins with two groups that differ along a dimension of average advantage and disadvantage, for instance two racial groups that differ in their poverty rates. The model employs standard measures of segregation and contact from the segregation measurement literature and illustrates how the contextual advantages and disadvantages from segregation are affected by group size and rates of group advantage/disadvantage. It also considers complexities that occur when the characteristics that define advantage/disadvantage (e.g. income or poverty) have independent segregative effects. The paper’s decomposition is applied to data on neighborhoods and friendships to illustrate its use.

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Presented in Session 30: Racial and Ethnic Segregation and Discrimination