Racial segregation in metropolitan Chicago housing

February 1, 2008

Racial segregation in metropolitan Chicago housing

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The United States is experiencing rapid demographic changes that are altering its racial and ethnic landscape, particularly in urban centers. According to the 2000 census, 56 percent of residents of the 100 largest U.S. cities are nonwhite. Moreover, there is diversity in the composition of this nonwhite population. For instance, Chicago, historically a black and white city, is now 36 percent black, 31 percent white, and 28 percent Latino, with the remaining 5 percent mainly being Asian.

Growing racial and ethnic diversity has not always meant increasing racial integration in the nation’s major metropolitan areas. The Chicago metro area ranks as the fifth, sixth, and ninth most residentially segregated metropolitan area in the United States for blacks, Latinos, and Asians, respectively. Residentially segregated neighborhoods in our urban centers like Chicago remain among the most salient reminders of our nation’s history of racial injustice. Extreme housing segregation is connected to persistent racial discrepancies in quality of health care, education, jobs, and other public and private sector services. Studies investigating the effects of residential segregation for young African Americans have concluded that the elimination of residential segregation would lead to the disappearance of black-white differences in earnings, high school graduation rates, and unemployment.

Why does residential segregation in Chicago persist 40 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968? Effective policies to counteract segregation require a clear understanding of why it persists. We address this question using survey data collected in Cook County in 2005 and the 2000 Census.


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Research Area: Social Policy

Policy Initiative: none

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