Sunday, 15 February 2015

Black-white segregation in Detroit in 1960 vs 2010

The last blog post compared the levels of segregation between whites and blacks in Atlanta and Detroit.

Detroit was more segregated, but has segregation in Detroit at least gone down compared to how it was in the past?

That's the focus of this post.

From the graphs, it's not entirely obvious that it has improved since 1960...

(See the previous blog post for a recap on the methodology)

The number of blacks* living in overwhelmingly black census tracts with virtually no whites* has increased, although the number of blacks living in mostly white census tracts has also increased a little.

At the same time, considering that blacks make up a larger part of the MSA population today than in 1960, you might expect them to have more blacks and fewer whites in their neighbourhoods (if segregation levels stayed the same). Again, the vertical lines are the MSA wide averages.

With whites on the other hand, there has been a clear increase in the number of whites with at least a moderate minority (ie 5-20%) of blacks living in their census tracts. The change is even more pronounced when you look at the white share of the census tracts whites live in (last graph) since these census tracts have seen a significant increase in people that are neither white nor black, like Asians.

Overall stats

Detroit 2010

Black population: 989,030
White population: 3,054,833
% Black: 22.78
% White: 70.36
% Other: 6.86

Census tract composition for the average black person
% Black: 72.20
% White: 22.99
% Other: 4.81

Census tract composition for the average white person
% Black: 7.44
% White: 85.89
% Other: 6.67

Detroit 1960

Black population: 558,868
White population: 3,191,278
% Black: 14.87
% White: 84.91
% Other: 0.22

Census tract composition for the average black person
% Black: 72.77
% White: 26.91
% Other: 0.32

Census tract composition for the average white person
% Black: 4.71
% White: 95.09
% Other: 0.20

Overall segregation index**
1960: 3.08
2010: 2.63

So although there has been a decrease in segregation, it has been relatively small. However, this doesn't tell the whole story. I suspect mixed race neighbourhoods in 1960 were mostly unstable and would become pre-dominantly black by 1970 due to white flight. In other words, if you lived in a mixed race neighbourhoods back then, it was likely only temporary unless you moved again. I suspect mixed neighbourhoods today, while they are sometimes still somewhat unstable, are much more stable than in the 1960s. I'll get into that more in a later post.

*Hispanics are counted as either black or white (or other), rather than as a separate race (unlike the previous post) since the 1960 census data doesn't specify the race of Hispanics.
**unlike the previous blog post where the index only took into account how over-represented blacks and under-represented whites were in census tracts blacks lived in, this index also takes into account the situation for whites in the census tracts where they live.

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