Fragmented Trajectories of Racial Change in Post-Civil Rights America

This study sets out to answer the question: how have neighborhoods changed since the Civil Rights Movement outlawed discriminatory housing? We study how neighborhood racial integration has changed during the four decades after the legislative successes of the Civil Rights Movement. We were unsatisfied with previous studies that focused mostly on defining "integrated" and "segregated" neighborhoods based on only on whether groups were present. We thought that the most interesting and important changes occur within "integrated" neighborhoods, and we set out to identify the common patterns of those changes.

We used a sophisticated statistical method to identify the most common types of change among Blacks, Latinos, Asians and Whites in the metropolitan neighborhoods of the four largest cities in the U.S.: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. We were disappointed to learn that many integrated neighborhoods were actually experiencing slow, but steady resegregation -- a process that we call "gradual succession." The process tended to concentrate Blacks into small areas of cities and inner-ring suburbs while scattering many Latinos and Asians into segregating neighborhoods throughout the metropolitan area.

While we reserve a healthy dose of pessimism about long-term integration, we also find neighborhoods experiencing long-term integration among Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Whites. We call these "quadrivial" neighborhoods, which derives from Latin for the intersection of four paths. We thought that seemed appropriate given the often different paths different racial groups took to these neighborhoods.

We invite you to take a look at the maps on this site for each metro area. If you have general questions about the overall study, you might be able to find the answer on our questions page. If you have more technically oriented questions, we encourage you to read the paper. And you should, of course, feel free to contact us.

Neighborhood Racial & Ethnic Change Trajectories, 1970-2010

Click below to look at the maps for one of the metropolitan areas (it might take several seconds for the maps to load -- we're sociologists, not computer scientists!).

New York

Los Angeles



About the Authors

Michael Bader is an assistant professor of sociology at American University, where he is also an affiliate of the Department of Public Administration and Policy, a faculty fellow of the Metropolitan Policy Center, and an associate of the the Center on Health, Risk, and Society. He studies, well, how neighborhood segregation evolves. In addition, he studies how neighborhood conditions create racial and economic health disparities and methods to study neighborhood conditions. He occasionally blogs at Scatterplot. You can find out more about his research at his website.

You may contact him at bader [at] american [dot] edu.

Siri Warkentien. Siri Warkentien is a research analyst at RTI International in the Center for Evaluation and Equity Studies. She recently completed her doctoral studies in the Sociology Department at Johns Hopkins University, where she was an Institute of Education Sciences Predoctoral Fellow. Her research focuses on racial and economic segregation in schools and neighborhoods and examines how exposure to different school and neighborhood contexts over time affects educational inequality.