The blog of the Urban Institute
August 25, 2011

Broad Improvements Mask Stark Differences in Metropolitan Racial Segregation

In two MetroTrends commentaries this summer we explored the racial composition of the average white person’s and average black person’s neighborhoods. We found that, due largely to influxes of Latinos, communities generally are becoming more diverse.

Our latest commentary examines segregation more broadly. We track how segregation has changed in the top 100 metros since 1980, and we compare differences in segregation between metros and their central cities.

Some of our findings suggest improvement: segregation is declining coast to coast. Others are troubling: some metros are still highly segregated, with large percentages of black residents clustered in one area.

These trends reflect both decades of public policy designed to segregate and isolate people from each other, as well as persistent segregation and socioeconomic inequality for minority populations.

We place our findings in this policy context by suggesting what metros, defined by historic policies and yet changing rapidly, can do to foster community integration and equality. To get the complete picture, click here.


As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Experts are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research.