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Ethnoracial Diversification at the Edges of Exclusion


Ethnoracial diversification is a necessary if insufficient step toward integration. It expands access to the advantages that decades of segregationist policies concentrated in white neighborhoods. Policy makers have long experimented with strategies to encourage and anchor neighborhood diversification, with limited success. Most diversification, however, has happened without policy interventions in cities across the United States. There is today more diverse neighborhoods than ever, but do they fulfill the promises of integration? If so, where?

The first chapter examines the potential of white neighborhoods that gradually diversified to lead to integration in Los Angeles County. Gradual diversification balances the reproduction of neighborhood advantage with expanding access to lower income residents. Neighborhoods that followed that trajectory maintain high socioeconomic and ethnoracial diversity in an environment that is more advantageous than most of the region’s neighborhoods. Local public elementary schools match the neighborhoods’ diversity and tend to more equitable. However, gradually diversifying neighborhoods are uncommon. Only about 10% of the Black and Latino population lives in them and their concentration at the edge of wealthy neighborhoods makes them expensive.

The second chapter develops a theory to explain how municipalities’ exclusionary practices interact with their neighbors to extend exclusion outside their boundaries. Exclusion generates externalities that are appealing to people and translate to higher property values and whiter neighborhoods. At municipal boundaries, the externalities from adjacent cities interact and their imbalance influences how exclusive boundaries are. Data on the ethnoracial composition at municipal boundaries provide evidence that most white suburbs have a buffer of white neighborhoods around them consistent with externalities that transcend boundaries.

The third chapter analyzes the role of urban growth in shaping the pace of neighborhood diversification. Given the benefits of gradual diversification, I test what neighborhood and regional factors influence neighborhood trajectories. In addition to the ethnoracial composition, the supply of diverse advantaged neighborhoods and slower urban expansion into unurbanized areas increase the odds a neighborhood diversifies gradually.

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