Sharing America's Neighborhoods: The Prospects for Stable, Racial Integration

Ellen, I.G.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press,

This work looks at the state of racial integration in America's neighbourhoods, revealing that although many areas are integrated, many also unravel quickly. The author examines the root causes of these racial changes, arguing the case for modest government intervention. The first part of this book presents a fresh and encouraging report on the state of racial integration in America's neighbourhoods. It shows that while the majority are indeed racially segregated, a substantial and growing number are integrated, and remain so for years. Still, many integrated neighbourhoods do unravel quickly, and the second part of the book explores the root causes. Instead of panic and "white flight" causing the rapid breakdown of racially integrated neighbourhoods, the author argues, contemporary racial change is driven primarily by the decision of white households not to move into integrated neighbourhoods for reasons unrelated to race. Such "white avoidance" is largely based on the assumptions that integrated neighbourhoods quickly become all black and that the quality of life in them declines as a result. The author concludes that while this explanation may be less troubling than the more common focus on racial hatred and white flight, there is still a good case for modest government intervention to promote the stability of racially integrated neighbourhoods. The final chapter offers some guidelines for policymakers to follow in crafting effective policies.

Wagner Faculty