Is Segregation Over? A New Report Takes Issue with Manhattan Institute’s Claim

3.7.2012 | As we reported here in February, a Manhattan Institute report by Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor argued that segregation is essentially over.  It caused quite a stir. Now, scholars from the Center for Urban Research at CUNY have issued a rebuttal in ”The End of Segregation? Hardly.”

With New York as a case study, Richard Alba and Steven Romalewski find a more nuanced view of segregation, arguing that although the integration of black Americans continues to advance, the end of segregation, or even of the segregated century, is not at hand.

Using detailed maps (like those we blogged about here ), sometimes down to the level of the city block, the authors investigate the population dynamics in some iconic neighborhoods, and uncover a picture that finds integration mixed with renewed segregation.  Further, their analysis “identifies a critical blind spot in the Manhattan Institute’s approach that leads the Institute to view all-minority neighborhoods, in which blacks and Hispanics live side by side, as relatively integrated,” a press release notes.

What to Glaeser and Vigdor appears to be integration in the South Bronx is still in reality dominated by Blacks and Hispanics, and poverty remains concentrated.  Glaeser and Vigdor’s approach, Alba and Romalewski say, “leads [them] to overstate the decline of ghettoes because they overlook a new form of ghetto: concentrated poverty areas of Black and Hispanic residents.”

Ultimately, the authors argue, compared with the more conventional approaches to measuring segregation, “the Manhattan Institute approach tends to understate Black segregation, especially in metropolitan regions that have large Black and Hispanic populations, such as Houston and Los Angeles.   The report thus overstates the decline of segregation on a nationwide scale.”

Plus: See Richard Rothstein’s commentary on the Manhattan Institute report, where he notes, among other things, that foreclosure crisis will likely erase any minimal progress in integration. He adds needed context to any discussion of segregation. Numbers alone never tell the full story.

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