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Central City White Flight: Racial and Nonracial Causes

William H. Frey
American Sociological Review
Vol. 44, No. 3 (Jun., 1979), pp. 425-448
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094885
Page Count: 24
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Central City White Flight: Racial and Nonracial Causes
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Abstract

Although residential "white flight" from large central cities is hardly a new phenomenon, its cumulative adverse impact on the residual population has led policy makers to be wary of instituting programs which will further exacerbate the process. Recent policy debates have evolved over the question of whether white city-to-suburb movement is affected more significantly by racially-motivated causes, or by conditions associated with the general economic and ecological conditions in the city. The present study assesses a number of previously suggested factors related to race, central city decline, and demographic structure as determinants of the white city-to-suburb movement streams in 39 large SMSAs. Treating this stream as a product of two separate mobility stages, this analysis suggests that most factors, both racial and nonracial, affect central city flight less through the decision to move, than through the choice of destination. Fiscal and ecological features of the metropolitan area are demonstrated to be important in the explanation. However, racial effects cannot be dismissed.

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