Neighborhood Race and Nearby Race Affects Neighborhood Changes in Relative Status and Stability: Testing an Ecological Extension of the Neighborhood Projection Thesis

Ralph B. Taylor, Brian A. Lawton, Jonathen Ellen


Current work tests an ecological extension of Ellen's (2000a) neighborhood projection thesis which explains individual-level moving behavior in response to neighborhood racial composition. It posits that residents anticipate future erosions in local services and amenities based on current and expected future racial composition. The ecological extension tested here anticipates declines in relative neighborhood status and neighborhood residential stability where the population is more predominantly African American initially, or becomes more African American over a decade, or is initially surrounded by more predominantly African American neighborhoods. All three of these race effects have generated mixed results in earlier studies. Looking at a decade of change (1990 to 2000) for two mid-Atlantic central cities (Baltimore (MD) and Philadelphia (PA)), results in both cities confirmed that relative status was more likely to decline if adjoining neighborhoods were more predominantly African American initially, or if the neighborhood was becoming more predominantly African American during the period. The impacts of racial composition on stability changes were neither uniform across cities nor uniformly adverse. At least for neighborhood changes in status, results support the proposed extension of Ellen's model to the neighborhood level, and underscored the spatial externalities arising from nearby populations of color.

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