National Institute on Aging

New Report Examines Residential Racial Segregation in the Twenty-First Century

A new report by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute finds that residential racial segregation is the major factor in racial inequality in the United States. The authors also conclude that residential segregation not only persists but has gotten worse over the past 30 years.

The report provides an annotated bibliography of local histories of segregation from 60 American cities and an interactive mapping tool that illustrates the level of segregation for every city, region, and neighborhood. The research found that 81 percent of metropolitan regions were more segregated in 2019 than in 1990. That lack of integration has led to a disproportionate distribution of resources in segregated communities of color compared to segregated White communities, and a neighborhood poverty rate three times higher in those communities of color.

“It’s the racial identity of the neighborhood you live in, and whether it is segregated or not, that really correlates with negative outcomes,” said Stephen Menendian, the director of research for the Othering and Belonging Institute and lead author of the report. “And these outcomes have gotten worse over time. If you measure what the average neighborhood looks like for a particular racial group, you actually see that we are as segregated today as we were in 1940.”

Menendian explains that, unlike the Jim Crow era, “it’s not the individual race of the person. It’s the race of the community that actually correlates these outcomes. White people living in highly segregated communities of color do just as bad, or almost as bad, as the people of color living in those neighborhoods. And people of color living in highly segregated White neighborhoods do much better than their counterparts in highly segregated communities of color.”

The full report, The Roots of Structural Racism Project: Twenty-First Century Racial Residential Segregation in the United States, may be found here.



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