Situating mixed-race households in neighborhood contexts

Situating mixed-race households in neighborhood contexts

University of Georgia
May 2007

Margaret Anne Hudson

Census 2000 counted approximately 1.7 million White/Latino mixed-race/multiethnic households in the US. Unfortunately, most research is limited to similar statistical accounting. Very little research moves beyond frequency counts to describe racial and ethnic identities in White/Latino households or the relationships of White/Latino households to segregated US urban terrain. Thus, this dissertation project is a case-study of the LA geography of White/Mexican households. White/Mexican households are the most numerous White/Latino household-type and, in LA, their population size is equal to that of Black same-race households.

Unlike previous work by geographers, I theoretically examine White/Mexican household locations with regard to racialization theory and feminist and cultural studies notions of difference; not simply race-blind theories about individual-level ethnic assimilation through out-partnerships with Whites. Using geographically-detailed and confidential 1990 census data from one in six LA area households, I link individual and household characteristics with census tracts and use dissimilarity and exposure indices, maps of neighborhood concentration rates, and residential attainment models to measure the segregation, concentration, and neighborhood racial compositions of White/Mexican households relative to: individuals from five non-Latino racial groups, groups of Mexican and other Latino individuals, and White same-race and Mexican co-ethnic households. Dissertation results indicate that neighborhood racial compositions and intra-urban residential geographies of White/Mexican households are in-between those of comparable White same-race and Mexican co-ethnic households. In contrast to White same-race households, White/Mexican households have more Mexican and Other Latino neighbors; relative to Mexican co-ethnic households, White/Mexican households have many more White neighbors. Residential attainment models find that, even after controlling for numerous household-level factors not accounted for in simple residential exposure calculations—i.e., household income and education levels, US or foreign-born nativity, and Spanish language use, etc.—White same-race and Mexican co-ethnic households that are equivalent to White/Mexican households do not share the same racially-defined residential space as White/Mexican households. Complex household-level racial affiliations appear to alter the residential locations of White/Mexican mixed-race households and, unlike predictions from assimilation theory, Mexican partnerships with Whites do not necessarily result in household residential patterns that are exactly like those of White same-race households.

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