The End Of Segregation?

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 2 2012 @ 6:53pm

Segregation chart

Edward Glaeser's research indicates that racial segregation has declined for the fourth consecutive decade: 

The dissimilarity index measures how uneven the black population is within a metropolitan area. … As the figure shows, as of 1970, almost 80 percent of either whites or blacks would have had to move neighborhoods in order to achieve an even distribution of whites and blacks within the average metropolitan area. By 1990, that dissimilarity measure had dropped to 66 percent; it is 54 percent today.

Jonathan Rothwell is unimpressed

51 percent of the entire U.S. metropolitan black population still lives in 50 metropolitan areas where segregation is high, according to the dissimilarity index data provided by John Logan of Brown University (a score above 60 is considered high–and means that 60 percent of blacks would have to switch neighborhoods with whites to achieve balance). This is down from 86 percent of blacks in 1980, living in 194 metropolitan areas, but it means that most blacks still live in highly-segregated metropolitan areas, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. 

John McWhorter zooms out

This report is not designed to shut people up about injustice. Its final words are "While the decline in segregation remains good news, far too many Americans lack the opportunity to achieve meaningful success." However, there is a crucial implication of this and the report. As the authors put it, "The persistence of inequality, even as segregation has receded, suggests that inequality is a far more complex phenomenon." That is, while black America does suffer from overall socioeconomic inequality with the mainstream, addressing that will not be a matter of worrying about whether black people live in neighborhoods with too many other black people in them. We should welcome this news.