Tipping and the dynamics of segregation

David Card, Alexandre Mas, Jesse Rothstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

356 Scopus citations

Abstract

Schelling ("Dynamic Models of Segregation," Journal of Mathematical Sociology 1 (1971), 143-186) showed that extreme segregation can arise from social interactions in white preferences: once the minority share in a neighborhood exceeds a "tipping point," all the whites leave. We use regression discontinuity methods and Census tract data from 1970 through 2000 to test for discontinuities in the dynamics of neighborhood racial composition. We find strong evidence that white population flows exhibit tipping-like behavior in most cities, with a distribution of tipping points ranging from 5% to 20% minority share. Tipping is prevalent both in the suburbs and near existing minority enclaves. In contrast to white population flows, there is little evidence of nonlinearities in rents or housing prices around the tipping point. Tipping points are higher in cities where whites have more tolerant racial attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-218
Number of pages42
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Volume123
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics

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