Racial residential segregation and the housing search process

Racial residential segregation and the housing search process

Journalists and policymakers often point out that Chicago is one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States. The city’s long history of residential segregation is tied to complex issues, such as discrimination in housing policies by landlords, real estate agents, and most recently the mortgage industry. Yet many observers often argue that, “people simply want to live with people like them.” In other words, communities self-segregate. IGPA Expert Maria Krysan (right) studies housing policy, racial attitudes, and residential segregation in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research has consistently shown that self-segregation by minorities is a myth. The “why” of segregation is much more complex. “We find that in recent years, when people are asked to create their ideal neighborhood, diversity is preferred by many people of all races and ethnicities. Diversity is clearly valued, but is not reflected in practice,” Krysan said. “What happens between the intention and the end result?” The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has called for research examining the preferences, decisions and external factors that influence individuals as they search for housing. Although past research has explored in detail the preferences people have in terms of the racial and ethnic composition of their neighborhoods, until now, no academic research exists about the racial and ethnic composition of where people search. In an article in Springer’s Population Research and Policy Review, Krysan and colleagues Esther Havekes and Michael Bader contribute the first data that examine where people say they want to live, where they search, and where they end up living. The results reveal once again that there is much more to segregation than individuals simply choosing where to live.

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"Logistic regression analyses reveal that mismatches are associated with both a lack of information and inadequate finances, but also may be due to socially desirable responding for whites in particular. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg."

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