Comparisons with Racial and Ethnic IsolationResidential isolation by race is more prevalent than residential isolation by income. In 2010, 42% of blacks lived in a census tract that was majority black, compared with 28% of low-income households living in a majority low-income tract and 18% of upper-income households living in a majority upper-income tract.5
Another way to look at racial segregation is to analyze the racial makeup of the census tract where the typical person of a given race lives. In 2010, the typical African American resided in a census tract whose population was 45% African American, though African Americans comprised only 12% of the population. The typical white person (63% of the population) lived in a tract that was 77% white; the typical Hispanic (17% of the population) resided in a tract that was 45% Hispanic; and the typical Asian or Pacific Islander (5% of the population) resided in a tract that was 21% Asian or Pacific Islander.
Applying this same metric to residential segregation by income, one finds that in 2010 the typical lower-income household (32% of the population) was located in a tract that was 41% lower income and the typical upper-income household (20% of the population) was located in a tract that was 32% upper income. In other words, although these two minority income groups are larger than Hispanics (17%) and African Americans (12%), the two income groups are less likely to be clustered among themselves.
As for trends over time in racial segregation, one of the major findings arising from the 2010 Census is that black-white segregation continues to decline in America (Glaeser and Vigdor, 2012; Logan and Stults, 2011; Frey, 2011). In 1980, the typical black American lived in a census tract that was 58% black; by 2010, that share dropped to 45%.
However, residential segregation of Hispanic and Asian Americans may not have decreased—in part because the populations of these two minority groups have grown during this period, thereby creating larger pools for potential ethnic and racial clustering. In 1980, the typical Hispanic resided in a tract that was 38% Hispanic (compared with 45% in 2010) and the typical Asian or Pacific Islander resided in a tract that was 19% Asian or Pacific Islander (compared with 21% in 2010).6