The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto

Posted: 22 Sep 1999

See all articles by David M. Cutler

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jacob L. Vigdor

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Abstract

This paper examines segregation in American cities from 1890 to 1990. From 1890 to 1940, ghettos were born as blacks migrated to urban areas and cities developed vast expanses filled with almost entirely black housing. From 1940 to 1970, black migration continued and the physical areas of the ghettos expanded. Since 1970, there has been a decline in segregation as blacks have moved into previously all-white areas of cities and suburbs. Across all these time periods there is a strong positive relation between urban population or density and segregation. Data on house prices and attitudes toward integration suggest that in the mid-twentieth century, segregation was a product of collective actions taken by whites to exclude blacks from their neighborhoods. By 1990, the legal barriers enforcing segregation had been replaced by decentralized racism, where whites pay more than blacks to live in predominantly white areas.

JEL Classification: J11, J15

Suggested Citation

Cutler, David M. and Glaeser, Edward L. and Vigdor, Jacob L., The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 107, No. 3, June 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=161220

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Edward L. Glaeser (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Brookings Institution

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Jacob L. Vigdor

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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