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Neighborhood Racial-Composition Preferences: Evidence from a Multiethnic Metropolis

Camille Zubrinsky Charles
Social Problems
Vol. 47, No. 3 (Aug., 2000), pp. 379-407
DOI: 10.2307/3097236
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3097236
Page Count: 29
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Neighborhood Racial-Composition Preferences: Evidence from a Multiethnic Metropolis
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Abstract

America's major urban centers are becoming increasingly multiethnic. Despite this increase in racial and ethnic diversity, extreme Black-White residential segregation remains the common pattern. As one of the most racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse cities in the world-and one of the most residentially segregated-Los Angeles represents the changing face of urban America. A multiracial sample of adults (N = 4025) is employed to examine neighborhood racial composition preferences-an important, individual-level explanation for residential segregation-and address three shortcomings in existing research. First, I assess composition preferences in a multiracial manner with an innovative replication and expansion of the Farley-Schuman showcard methodology used in the 1976 and 1992 Detroit Area studies. Second, I extend analysis of the cause of preferences beyond racial stereotypes to include parenting, homeownership, perceptions of social class difference, and common fate identity. Third, I test, directly, the effects of these factors on preferences for same-race neighbors. Results lend strong support to race-based explanations of preferences. As stereotypes toward out-groups become more negative, preferences for integration decrease; Blacks are consistently perceived in unfavorable terms, and are, consensually, the least preferred out-group neighbors. There is also limited support for so-called class-based explanations of preferences; homeowners prefer fewer Black neighbors. Generally, results suggest both greater resistance to integration with Blacks than previously thought, but more openness to integration than currently exists.

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