A Four City Study of Black and White Spatial Isolation, 1960-1990

Sims, Mario
Working paper no. 1996-24


In this paper, I examine 1960 to 1980 trends in suburbanization and education segregation within the black and white populations of four U.S. metropolitan areas. This analysis provides a test of Wilson’s (1987) social isolation thesis which claims that, during the 1960s and 1970s, middle-class blacks moved out of inner-city ghettos into suburbs, thereby isolating themselves from lower-class blacks. Results show that support is found for Wilson’s thesis, in that highly educated blacks became more suburbanized over time (more so than whites), and more spatially isolated from less educated blacks than did highly educated whites from less educated whites over time.