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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Imprint of Preferences and Racial Attitudes in the 1990s: A Window Into Contemporary Residential Segregation Patterns in the Greater Boston Area


If we truly desire to keep integration on the upswing and to hasten segregation’s descent, we must continue to effectively harness and improve the resources and tools at our disposal—including social science research.

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, three of the most important socioeconomic and demographic factors contributing to the decline in residential segregation were the suburbanization of people and jobs, the economic prosperity of the 1990s, and the surge in the number of multiethnic metropolitan areas. These trends started slowly in the 1960s and 1970s, gained momentum in the 1980s, and surpassed most expectations in the 1990s (Frey & Farley 1996; Glaeser & Vigdor 2002; U.S. Bureau of the Census 2003). Still, residential segregation is demonstrably complex and resistant to change. Many cities surely will remain highly segregated (and, in the case of a select few, hypersegregated) for decades to come. Despite the progress that has been made to date, residential segregation remains one of the most vexing social and policy problems facing American society.

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