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Household Location and Race: A Twenty-Year Retrospective

Stuart A. Gabriel and Gary D. Painter
In a paper published in The Review of Economics and Statistics some 20 years ago, we sought to assess the disparate residential location choices of black and white households in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area (Gabriel and Rosenthal [1989]). The paper showed that simulated closure of large socio-economic gaps between blacks and whites did little to diminish prevailing high levels of residential segregation or otherwise enhance moves by black households to areas of educational, employment, and housing opportunity. In the wake of intervening decades, the current paper applies data from 2000 to assess anew racial variations in residential location choice. Results of the multinomial logit analysis indicate large, persistent racial differentials in residential location choice. While black location choice in 2000 was relatively more dispersed than in 1980, it remained remarkably concentrated in DC and Prince Georges County. As in our prior analysis, results showed that large simulated gains in black economic and educational status had little effect on prevailing racial segregation. These findings underscore the ongoing, limited access of black households to schooling, employment, and housing opportunities available outside traditional areas of settlement. In marked contrast, the locational choices of Latino and immigrant households bore greater similarity to those of whites and were more sensitive to improvements in socio-economic status.