The Effects of Mixed-Race Households on Residential Segregation

The Effects of Mixed-Race Households on Residential Segregation

Journal Urban Geography
Issue Volume 28, Number 6, August 16-September 30, 2007
Online Date: 2007-11-27
Pages 554-577
ISSN: 0272-3638
DOI 10.2747/0272-3638.28.6.554

Mark Ellis
University of Washington

Steven R. Holloway
University of Georgia

Richard Wright
Dartmouth College

Margaret East
The University of Texas, Arlington

This paper investigates how household-scale racial mixing affects measurements of neighborhood-scale racial segregation. This topic is increasingly important as mixed-race households are becoming more common across the United States.  Specifically, our research asks two questions: What is the sensitivity of neighborhood racial segregation measures to levels of household-scale racial mixing? And what is the relationship between neighborhood racial diversity and the presence of mixed-race households? We answer these questions with an analysis that uses confidential long-form data from the 1990 U.S. census. These data provide information on household racial composition at the tract level. The results show that racial mixing within households has meaningful effects on measurements of neighborhood segregation, suggesting that patterns of mixed-race household formation and residential location condition understandings of neighborhood segregation dynamics. We demonstrate that mixed-race households are a disproportionate source of neighborhood diversity in the least racially plural neighborhoods. This article also reflects on the complications that mixed-race households pose for the interpretations of neighborhood-scale segregation and cautions against drawing conclusions about residential desegregation based on racial mixing in households.

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