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Many studies have examined the causes and consequences of racial segregation (Taeuber and Taeuber, 1965; Clark, 1992; Massey and Denton, 1993), and have concluded that segregation is influenced by contextual factors specific to metro areas, racial preferences displayed by group members, and discrimination in the housing and lending markets.
Attention has also been given to class segregation within racial and ethnic groups (Erbe, 1975; Massey and Eggers, 1990; Jargowsky, 1996). The importance of class segregation has received considerable attention in recent reports on the linkages between economic changes and the spatial distribution of groups in urban society. Specifically, Wilson (1987) argued that the increased neighborhood concentration of the black urban poor during the 1970s was due in part to a changing economy and a middle-class exodus from urban ghettos. On the other hand, Massey and colleagues concluded that the growth in the concentration of black poverty during the 1970 was primarily due to the interaction of rising poverty among blacks and racial segregation, and not rising levels of class segregation among blacks (Massey and Eggers, 1990; Massey and Denton, 1993).
As a general phenomenon, class segregation means that higher-status persons likely live in more desirable areas away from their lower-status counterparts, which has implications for neighborhood inequality across classes. This aspect of class segregation is undertaken by Massey (1996), who found that a geography of inequality became pronouned during the 1970s and 1980s, when the rich isolated themselves into neighborhoods of privilege, thus leaving behind poor families in areas of growing despair.
This case study is motivated by both Wilson's and Massey's research on the residential distribution of social classes. I examine whether highly educated blacks increased the spatial distance between themselves and their less-educated counterparts in the 1980s, as Wilson (1987) claimed for the 1970s. I also examine to which Massey's "Age of Extremes" has emerged within specific groups. Among which racial and ethnic groups have the highly educated become most concentrated among other highly educated persons during the 1980s? This provides a partial test of Massey's thesis, in that I explore changes only in the extent of high-status, not low-status, isolation.
Using 1980 and 1990 census data, I address the following questions: 1) To what extent did high-status racial and ethnic persons live apart form their respective lower-status counterparts in 1980 and 1990? and 2) To what extent did high-status persons spatially interact with persons of dissimilar status and live isolated in areas with persons of similar status?
According to Gust (1977:290), "Persons of higher social status have certain desire or tastes for types of neighborhoods, and they use their income to purchase location in accordance with high SES (socioeconomic status) may elect to live in neighborhoods with people of similar prestige and status, where social and job contacts are established, and certain values and norms are reinforced that aid in the socialization of children (Guest, 1977; Wilson, 1979; Reich, 1991). Other features of a neighborhood might also motivate social classes to live apart. For instance, high-status households may prefer to live in areas with higher quality and more spacious housing, better schools, more recreational facilities, and safer environments than found in inner-city areas where members of some high-status groups initially settled. The final residential configuration means that high-status families live in areas away from "influences disruptive of their life style and from conflict with other groups that might threaten their status, property, and even their lives" (Wilson, 1979: 56). At the same time, less-advantaged families, because of limited income, are likely to live in areas with fewer services, poorer schools, and harsher social and economic conditions than found in nonpoor areas (Massey and Denton, 1993).
Wilson (1987) describes the consequences of rising class segregation within the black population for the 1970s. During this time, middle-class blacks, given changes in housing legislation and improvements in education, were able to move away from lower-class blacks to neighborhoods with other middle-class families where opportunities for advancement and job contacts were more numerous. At the same time, lower-status blacks were left behind in ghettos of despair, without middle-class role models who could provide examples of mainstream behavior, a social buffer during economic downturns, as well as information about jobs in the mainstream economy (Wilson, 1987). In short, changes in black class segregation contributed in part to the growth of the black underclass.
This middle-class-flight thesis, however, has been tested by Massey and Eggers (1990) who examined income segregation within the black, white, Hispanic, and Asian populations, and concluded that the interaction of rising levels of black poverty and racial segregation contributed to the growth of the black ghetto poor during the 1970s, and not rising levels of income segregation within the black population. Thus, they found little support for Wilson's thesis.
I am concerned not only with determining whether the spatial component of Wilson's (1987) thesis continued into the 1980s, but also with determining the extent to which Massey's (1996) "Age of Extremes" has emerged within racial and ethnic groups. Massey's analysis of extreme social classes is important in the study of class segregation because it points out the probable consequences of residential separation for not only the poor (as in Wilson's research), but also the affluent.
Massey and Eggers' (1993) and Massey's (1996) analyses of the spatial distribution of affluent and poor classes originated in the work of Massey and Eggers (1990). Instead of examining income segregation within the black, white, Hispanic, and Asian populations, Massey and Eggers (1993) explored it for the population as a whole. They concluded that a geography of inequality has taken place among affluent and poor families, in which affluent families have become increasingly concentrated in neighborhoods with other rich families, while poor families have become isolated in areas with other poor families. In his recent work, Massey (1996) …