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Winter 2004, Mobility, Residential Location, and the American Dream

Stuart Gabriel and Gary Painter
Racial disparities in housing remain endemic to U.S. metropolitan areas. Those disparities derive from variability across groups in the constraints, preferences, and endowments that govern the household mobility, homeownership, and residential location decisions. While white households historically have displayed high levels of movement to and homeownership in suburban locations, only damped rates have been evidenced among blacks and Latinos. Further, as is well appreciated, minority households are characterized by depressed levels of homeowner ship overall. The substantially lower rates of suburbanization among minority households give rise to concerns regarding their access to and consumption of such location-specific amenities as safer neighborhoods and better schools. The depressed levels of minority homeownership have further adverse implications for the wealth accrual and upward economic mobility of those groups.