Magazine article USA TODAY

Race, Not Income, Defines Neighborhoods

Magazine article USA TODAY

Race, Not Income, Defines Neighborhoods

Article excerpt

When white and black families have the same household income, the white family is likely to be in the more affluent neighborhood, maintains research appearing in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Researchers have found that black and Hispanic families effectively need higher incomes than white families to live in comparably affluent neighborhoods.

As a result, middle-income black and Hispanic households are much more likely to live in poor neighborhoods--which tend to have weaker schools, more crime, and bigger social problems--than whites or Asians who earn the same amount of money. This segregation may be constraining the upward mobility of black and Hispanic children compared with their white and Asian peers.

The disparities occur at every rung on the income ladder. A black household with an annual income of $50,000, for instance, lives, on average, in a neighborhood in which the median income is $42,579. A typical Latino household with the same income lives in one only slight ly better. However, white households with exactly the same income will, on average, live in neighborhoods where the median income is almost $53,000--about 25% higher. Among black and white households with incomes of $100,000, the neighborhood affluence gap is 20%.

Comparable disparities occur among poor families as well. A very poor white household with an annual in come of $13,000 lives, on average, in a neighborhood where the median income is $45,000--40% higher than in the typical neighborhood of a black family with the same income. …

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