Affluent Minorities Live in Poorer Neighborhoods than White Counterparts

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A class divide doesn’t fully explain racial neighborhood segregation, a new Brown University study finds.

Nationally, affluent blacks and Hispanics live in poorer neighborhoods than where the average low-income white person lives.

The D.C. region bucks the trend somewhat; here, wealthy minorities live in areas with the same, not higher, poverty rates as where poor whites live. The proximity of Prince George’s County may skew the results for the region, the Washington Post reports. The county, which is 65 percent black, is home to high concentration of affluent African Americans:

Blacks and Hispanics… who earned more than $75,000 lived in neighborhoods that were virtually the same as neighborhoods populated by whites earning under $40,000, as measured by average income, poverty rates, education levels, home values and housing vacancies.

“Income, and being successful in class terms, does not necessarily put you in a different kind of neighborhood,” said John Logan, a Brown University sociologist who analyzed census data in his study released Tuesday.

Many in D.C. proper view class, not race, as the District’s biggest divider, but racial segregation is more prevelant in the city than in the region as a whole. And the wealthiest areas in D.C. also have the fewest numbers of African American residents. For example, the black population accounts for only 5 percent of Ward 3, the city’s wealthiest area, where the median income is about $97,000.

The Brown study also included facts on the isolation of racial groups:

  • The average affluent white household lives in an area where 75.3 percent of their neighbors are white. The average poor white household lives in neighborhoods that are only slightly less white.
  • Since 1990, African Americans have become less isolated from Asians and Hispanics, but isolation from whites has hardly changed over the past 20 years.
  • Affluent African Americans are only slightly less isolated from whites than poor blacks.
  • Asians of all income levels have the most exposure to whites. Affluent Asians live in neighborhoods that are 55 percent white.
  • Hispanics and African Americans of all class levels have the nearly the same levels of isolation from whites.
  • David

    Thank you so much for your article and your website. There may be an article elsewhere that I haven’t seen yet, but I wonder if you have any thoughts about how we begin to work toward further racial and class integration.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment, David. This is definitely something we should explore.