Residential Preferences: Do They Explain Persistent Segregation?

Reynolds Farley, University of Michigan
Mick P. Couper, University of Michigan

Debate raged in the 1990s about the causes of persistent racial residential segregation. Massey and Yinger contended that housing market discrimination maintained the American Apartheid system. The Thernstroms cited studies reporting that the overwhelming majority of whites were willing to live with blacks or move to neighborhoods where blacks lived. Those studies also found that most blacks wanted to reside with other blacks. Hence, the residential preferences of blacks sustain segregation. To understand preferences, studies were conducted in metropolitan Detroit and Chicago in 2004. Respondents were shown cards depicting neighborhoods with varying racial compositions and were asked whether they would feel comfortable living there or would consider moving there. Respondents were given blank "neighborhood cards" and told to draw their most preferred racial composition. We will summarize findings to test the hypothesis that preferences explain segregation.

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Presented in Session 90: The Impacts of Neighborhoods and Communities