Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Segregation in Housing

I don't know what to make of this one.  The Baltimore Sun has an article about housing patterins from 1977 to 2005.  Read about it here.

For starters, the study only tracks black and white families.  Um, there's a lot more to the ethnic make-up of the US than that, so I don't know that the initial premise of the study is entirely valid.

And that's reflected in the numbers.  Much is decried that 44% of black families who moved in the time period moved to predominantly black neighborhoods, while 5% moved to predominantly white neighborhoods, 18% moved to multi-ethinic neighborhoods, and 34% to other types of neighborhoods.  Similarly, 57% of whites moved to predominantly white neighborhoods, 2% to predominantly black neighborhoods, 6% to multi-ethnic neighborhoods, and 36% to other types of neighborhoods.

For starters, I don't know what the hell an other type of neighborhood would be.  It seems to me the first three categories cover all the bases.  I suppose it could mean predominantly Hispanic, Asian, or Native American neighborhoods.  But what's the size of a neighborhood?  Parts of Ellicott City have large Korean populations.  Does that make those areas predominantly other types of neighborhoods, or is the whole of Ellicott City what's counted and it's considered predominantly white or multi-ethnic?

A large hit to the questionable usefulness if this study is in the terminology.  "Predominantly" is a key word.  That's because there aren't many neighborhoods, particurly in urban and suburban areas, that are entirely one ethnicity.  Even in rural areas it's getting harder to find, as many Hispanic immigrants are willing to move far and wide for employment.  And why not?  They already left home for a strange land.  While there are some clusters of fellow immigrants to give support in more urban areas, there are more labor job opportunities in rural areas.

So, what does this study provide?  Aside from a somewhat hysterical, and possibly misleading, headline that segregation remains a problem in the US, not much.  Some white people continue to flee further and further away from cities?  No news there.  They mostly cloak it in affordable housing or lower taxes, as our white flighters from Maryland are wont to do, but some are doing it to live with "their own kind" as much as possible, too. 

These numbers really mean next to nothing because of the qualifiers used in the black and white neighborhoods and the lack of definition for the other.

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