Accounting for Demography and Preferences: Estimates of Ethnic Residential Segregation with Minimum Segregation Measures

Jeffrey M. Timberlake, University of Cincinnati

The index of dissimilarity (D) is the most widely used quantitative measure of residential segregation. Conventional interpretations of D assume that normatively desirable residential patterns correspond to neighborhood ethnic compositions that match the demography of a city or metropolitan area. However, survey data show that ethnic groups often hold average preferences for same-group contact that exceed their share of the population in a metropolitan area. In this paper we compare D scores with the minimum segregation measure D*, which returns the lower bound on segregation for a given average preference level and metropolitan area ethnic distribution. Positive scores indicate that a metropolitan area is more segregated than necessary to satisfy average in-group preferences, while negative scores indicate that it is less segregated than necessary. We use data from census 2000 to calculate D and D* and analyze the associations of the difference with theoretically important predictors of residential segregation.

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Presented in Session 63: Migration, Neighborhoods and Segregation