Segregation and Violence Reconsidered: Do Whites Benefit From Residential Segregation?

Julia Thomas , University of Wisconsin-Madison
Michael Light, Pennsylvania State University

Segregation plays a central role in perpetuating and maintaining racial inequality, yet little research has examined the impact of the long-term changes in segregation on inequality, such as racial differences in violent crime. This is a significant omission given the marked declines in black-white segregation since 1970. Moreover, there is a lack of consensus on whether segregation is beneficial to white Americans, despite unanimity in the literature that it is detrimental to African Americans. This paper seeks to fill this gap by using US Census and CDC mortality data for 103 major metropolitan areas from 1970-2010 to determine whether residential segregation impacts race-specific homicide rates in metropolitan areas. We find that segregation plays a salient role in exacerbating racial differences in violence by increasing homicide victimization among African Americans while simultaneously decreasing homicide among whites.

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 Presented in Session 40. Race, Discrimination, and Health