The voices of Urban Institute's researchers and staff
July 6, 2011

How Diverse are the Neighborhoods Where Blacks Live?

July 6, 2011

People  interested in patterns of neighborhood segregation in a multi-ethnic nation like ours typically look at the composition of the average white person's neighborhood and at changes in its make-up  over time.  In a recent blog and a longer commentary, I’ve explored the latest data on these questions for metro areas nationwide.

But what about the composition of the average Black person's neighborhood?   Across all US metro areas, the average African American lives in a neighborhood where almost half his neighbors (48 percent) are Black, even though the US population is only 12 percent Black.  Over the past three decades, the neighborhoods where Blacks live have become more diverse. That’s mostly because the share of Hispanic neighbors has increased.  In only 30 of the top 100 metros nationwide has the share of non-Hispanic whites living in the average black person’s neighborhood grown significantly.

 

Historically, African Americans have been excluded from neighborhoods with high quality housing, schools, and amenities and predominantly Black neighborhoods have been deprived of essential public services and private investments. Today, even middle-class Black neighborhoods have lower house price appreciation, fewer neighborhood amenities, lower performing schools, and higher crime than white neighborhoods with comparable income levels.

Bottom line: Although metropolitan America’s neighborhoods are increasingly diverse, most of the change stems from growth in Hispanic population, not meaningful reductions in Black-White segregation.  Is that progress?

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