L.A. Is Resegregating–and Whites Are a Major Reason Why

Michael Bader, Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2016

Some of America’s most racially integrated neighborhoods and cities are on a path to becoming segregated all over again. In Los Angeles this means neighborhoods where Latinos and Asians now live alongside black or white neighbors may have few to no whites or blacks in 10 to 20 years.

In research I conducted with Siri Warkentien, another sociologist, we used a statistical model and census data to identify the most common changes in racial composition in 10,681 neighborhoods in metropolitan L.A., Houston, Chicago and New York, beginning as far back as 1970 in some areas. That starting point corresponds with the implementation of the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act, which protects buyers and renters from discrimination in choosing where to live.

Covina, 22 miles east of downtown L.A., provides an example of one city at risk of resegregating. Whites make up about 26% of Covina as of 2014 and Latinos about 57%. Typically we consider neighborhoods with at least 10% of each group to be racially integrated. But the mix is crumbling. Latinos made up 13% of Covina’s residents in 1980, 26% in 1990, 40% in 2000, and 52% in 2010. Four years later, according to the most recent census estimate, the Latino population had grown by five more percentage points. By 2025, Covina is likely to be overwhelmingly Latino.

Something similar happened already in nearby Norwalk. In 1990, just under half its residents were Latino and about a third were white (not unlike Covina now). By 2014, Latinos made up 70% of residents and whites 11%.

What’s causing a shift from mixed to single-race populations?

Immigration is one obvious factor. {snip}

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White preferences are another major factor that helps explain resegregation.

Our model showed that, broadly speaking, during the 1980s, whites stopped fleeing from neighborhoods that were becoming integrated. But then–more than any other racial group–when whites did move they chose new neighborhoods with same-race neighbors.

In other words, Latinos moving to an area would not cause most whites to move out. But the prospect of having Latino neighbors might be enough to prevent whites from moving into a neighborhood. {snip}

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