Dividing Lines: Racial Segregation across Local Government Boundaries
- Journal of Economic Literature (Forthcoming)
We describe the empirical relationship between local government boundaries and residential segregation in the US. First, we study recent changes in the distribution of segregation within and between local governments in all metropolitan areas, using census block data on residential demographics over the period 1990-2020. We find that segregation across local government boundaries explains a substantial share of racial stratification, which has changed only little over the last thirty years. Next, we use spatial regression discontinuity methods to distinguish between household sorting due to neighborhood amenities and public goods provided by local governments. The prevalence of demographic discontinuities at local government boundaries suggest that between-jurisdiction segregation patterns cannot be explained solely by proximity to neighborhood amenities. We discuss implications for policy, showing that both between-jurisdiction segregation and jurisdictional discontinuities can partly explain the correlation between total segregation and racial gaps in educational outcomes.
Forthcoming Article Downloads