Declining Segregation through the Lens of Neighborhood Quality: Does Middle-Class Status Bring Equality?

Samantha Friedman, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Joseph Gibbons, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)

Middle-class status and suburban residence are considered symbolic of the American dream. As minority populations become less segregated, the question of whether middle class socio-economic status and suburban residence mean access to quality residential environments has gone largely unexplored. This paper helps fill this gap by evaluating the neighborhood conditions of different racial and ethnic groups for both suburban residents and the overall metropolitan population. Our study relies on data from the 2009 panel of the American Housing Survey and focuses on a range of neighborhood conditions, including indicators of social disorder and neighborhood satisfaction. Contrary to the assumptions of the spatial assimilation model, we find that middle-class status does not lead to consistently superior conditions for all households. Neighborhood circumstance varies considerably based on race and ethnicity. In addition, for blacks and Hispanics, suburban residence results in inferior neighborhood conditions.

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Presented in Session 53: Processes of Residential Attainment