Firm Turnover and the Return of Racial Employment Segregation

26 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017 Last revised: 7 Sep 2017

See all articles by John-Paul Ferguson

John-Paul Ferguson

McGill University

Rembrand Koning

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Date Written: September 6, 2017


Racial segregation between American workplaces is greater today than it was a generation ago. This increase has happened alongside the declines in within-establishment occupational segregation on which most prior research has focused. We examine more than 40 years of longitudinal data on the racial employment composition of every large private-sector workplace in the United States to calculate between-area, between-establishment, and within establishment trends in racial employment segregation over time. We demonstrate that the return of racial establishment segregation owes little to within-establishment processes but rather stems from differences in the turnover rates of more- and less-homogeneous workplaces. Present research on employment segregation focuses intently on within-firm processes. By doing so, we may be overstating what progress has been made on employment integration and ignoring other avenues of intervention that may give greater leverage for further integrating firms.

Keywords: stratification, segregation, employment segregation, decomposition

JEL Classification: J7, Z13

Suggested Citation

Ferguson, John-Paul and Koning, Rembrand, Firm Turnover and the Return of Racial Employment Segregation (September 6, 2017). Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 17-50, Available at SSRN: or

John-Paul Ferguson (Contact Author)

McGill University ( email )

1001 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest
Montreal, Quebec H2V 2L5


Rembrand Koning

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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