Over the past 40 years, income inequality and housing segregation within the Black community has bee far more pronounced than in white America. A new study paints a picture of volatile Black neighborhoods pushed and pulled by income inequalities that have also wreaked vast changes on the larger American landscape, as “affluent people cluster in gentrified areas where lower income people cannot live, and poor people also become more concentrated.”
“Housing segregation among Blacks and Hispanics has, in fact, increased much more sharply than among whites since 1970.”
A new report on housing segregation shows that many more Americans live in distinctly poor or categorically affluent neighborhoods than forty years ago, while far less reside in middle income neighborhoods. Back in 1970, 65 percent of families lived in neighborhoods of middle-income earners. Today, that figure is down to just 44 percent. About a third of Americans now live in neighborhoods of either affluence or poverty, up from just 15 percent 40 years ago.
The authors of the study, by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University, attribute much of the increase in housing segregation by income to growing inequalities in society. Affluent people cluster in gentrified areas where lower income people cannot live, and poor people also become more concentrated.
The New York Times did an article on the study, last week, under the byline of reporter Sabrina Tavernise. But the terms “Black” or “African American” did not appear even once in the nearly 1,000-word piece. Clearly, Ms. Tavernise and her editors are so uncomfortable with the subject of race as to be nearly useless to their readers, because it turns out that the study had a great deal to say about race and segregation of neighborhoods by income. Housing segregation among Blacks and Hispanics has, in fact, increased much more sharply than among whites since 1970.
The authors say that’s largely because of growing income differences that have opened up between Blacks, with the growth of the African American middle class. But, like all things racial, the economics of the situation does not fully explain the phenomenon.
“The biggest jump in Black income inequality occurred between 1970 and 1990.”
Until the 1970s, there was less income inequality among Blacks than among white families, but since then intra-Black inequality has grown four times as much. The biggest jump in Black income inequality occurred between 1970 and 1990. It was during this same period that discrimination against Blacks in housing declined, allowing those families that could afford to leave poor neighborhoods, to do so. What the study shows is a very volatile Black community, with neighborhoods undergoing much more economic change than their white counterparts.
In the 1990s, the trend towards greater income inequality among Blacks slowed. That’s probably because the 90s was the most generally prosperous decade for Blacks of all incomes, which tended to moderate the growth of high density poverty in lower-income Black neighborhoods.
Then, something strange happened. When the first decade of the 21st century came along, economic data showed little reason to expect increased income segregation among Blacks. Nevertheless, a rapid increase did occur, despite a bad economy for African Americans.
The authors believe the increase was due to more lenient mortgage lending practices, the spread of sub-prime lending targeting Black and Latino neighborhoods. This, of course, was the bubble that is still bursting, which has led to the most catastrophic loss of Black wealth in history.
This story, of heightened African American mobility and volatile Black neighborhoods over the past 40 years, has no interest to the New York Times, even when they are handed a study that is chock-a-block with the facts.