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The Role of Social Connections in the Racial Segregation of US Cities

Tanner Regan, Andreas Diemer and Cheng Tang

Working Papers from The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy

Abstract: We study the extent of segregation in the social space of urban America. We measure segregation as the (lack of) actual personal connections between groups as opposed to conventional measures based on own neighbourhood composition. We distinguish social segregation from geographical definitions of segregation, and build and compare city-level indices of each. Conditional on residential segregation, cities with more institutions that foster social cohesion (churches and community associations) are less socially segregated. Looking at within-city variation across neighbourhoods, growing up more socially exposed to non-white neighbourhoods is related to various adulthood outcomes (jailed, income rank, married, and non-migrant) for black individuals. Social exposure to non-white neighbourhoods is always related to worsening adulthood outcomes in neighbourhoods that are majority non-white. Our results suggest that social connections, beyond residential location or other spatial relationships, are important for understanding the effective segregation of race in America.

Keywords: Segregation; Social Networks; US cities (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J15 R23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 42 pages
Date: 2023-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-net, nep-soc and nep-ure
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Handle: RePEc:gwi:wpaper:2023-05