Building Inequality: How Housing Segregation Shapes Income Segregation

Ann Owens , University of Southern California

Residential segregation remains high in the U.S. Households’ economic resources and constraints, preferences, and characteristics all bear on their residential outcomes. Less is known about the segregation of housing by type and cost across neighborhoods—the available options against which households’ decision-making plays out. This article documents trends in segregation of housing by type—renter- or owner-occupied; single or multifamily units—and by cost—rent or home values—in the 100 largest metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2014. I estimate housing segregation between neighborhoods and between places (municipalities). Then, I examine whether housing segregation contributes to income segregation across neighborhoods and places. Housing has been stably segregated by type and cost across neighborhoods since 1990, with 30 to 40% of segregation occurring between places. Housing segregation by type and cost strongly predicts income segregation between neighborhoods and places. The segregation of housing opportunities has serious consequences for residential segregation, with urgent implications for policymakers.

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 Presented in Session 102. Residential Segregation