NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Children Are More Segregated

May 8, 2001

Most black and white children are living in increasingly segregated neighborhoods, especially in major metropolitan areas in the Midwest and Northeast. While overall blacks and whites live in slightly more integrated areas now than they did in 1990, the segregation of their children has worsened because of the exodus of white families with children to largely white suburbs, according to the analysis of researchers from the State University of New York at Albany.

The problem, researchers say, is that black children grow up in neighborhoods where they're the majority, and that's not the world they'll live in; and white children think they're experiencing diversity but are only getting a taste of it.

  • Of the top 50 metropolitan areas, the ten most segregated were, in order: Detroit, Milwaukee, New York, Newark, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Cincinnati, Birmingham (Ala.), and St. Louis.
  • The least ten segregated were: Riverside-San Bernadino, Calif.; Norfolk, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; Augusta, Ga.; Greenville, S.C.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Columbia, S.C.; San Diego and Sacramento.
  • The relatively low segregation in these cities reflects their proximity to military bases, and to the growing number of blacks who have moved to the South from other parts of the country in the last decade.
  • There is also a countertrend in the Seattle, Portland, Ore., and other cities in the Pacific Northwest.

Many public schools in high segregation areas reflect the trend. In Milwaukee, for example, black make up 61 percent of the city's 60,000 pupils, up from 46 percent of the city's 41,000 public schoolchildren in 1980.

Source: Eric Schmitt, Metropolitan Racial and Ethnic Change - Census 2000, "Segregation Growing Among U.S. Children," New York Times, May 6, 2001; "Segregation of Children," May 6, 2001, Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, State University of New York.

For segregation report


Browse more articles on Government Issues