On the Measurement of Segregation

67 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2005

See all articles by Federico Echenique

Federico Echenique

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Roland G. Fryer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; University of Chicago

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2005

Abstract

This paper develops a measure of segregation based on two premises: (1) a measure of segregation should disaggregate to the level of individuals, and (2) an individual is more segregated the more segregated are the agents with whom she interacts. Developing three desirable axioms that any segregation measure should satisfy, we prove that one and only one segregation index satisfies our three axioms, and the two aims mentioned above; which we coin the Spectral Segregation Index. We apply the index to two well-studied social phenomena: residential and school segregation. We calculate the extent of residential segregation across major US cities using data from the 2000 US Census. The correlation between the Spectral index and the commonly-used dissimilarity index is .42. Using detailed data on friendship networks, available in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we calculate the prevalence of within-school racial segregation. The results suggests that the percent of minority students within a school, commonly used as a substitute for a measure of in-school segregation, is a poor proxy for social interactions.

Keywords: Segregation, Discrimination, Urban Economics, Networks, Graph Theory, Social Interactions, School Segregation

JEL Classification: C0, J15, Z13

Suggested Citation

Echenique, Federico and Fryer, Roland G., On the Measurement of Segregation (April 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=700382 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.700382

Federico Echenique (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

313 Baxter Hall
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

Roland G. Fryer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
167
Abstract Views
1,297
rank
147,603
PlumX Metrics