Obstacles Faced by Mixed-Raced Couples in Finding Housing in Areas With Quality Schools

A new study from scholars at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and Georgia State University has found that mixed-race couples with children are very likely to move to racially diverse neighborhoods. However, these parents also struggle to find communities that are both racially diverse and affluent enough to give their children the resources they need.

For their study, the researchers analyzed data from the longest-running longitudinal study in the world to see what couples were able to find a neighborhood with everything they wanted and what couples were not. They found that couples with a Black partner were significantly more likely to move to a neighborhood that was racially diverse, but less affluent. Since schools are generally funded through local property taxes, that means their children get fewer resources for their education.

According to the researchers, today’s neighborhood color lines partially stay intact indirectly through zoning rules such as those that forbid multi-family housing and require a minimum acreage size for homes. The result is that neighborhoods stratify by race because racial groups are stratified by income.

“I hope this paper deepens our understanding of the complex calculations families have to make when deciding where to live,” said Amy Spring, a professor at Georgia State and co-author of the study. “Different families face different preferences, concerns and obstacles in accessing economically advantaged neighborhoods, creating important and enduring inequalities.”

The full study, “Neighborhood Diversity, Neighborhood Affluence: An Analysis of the Neighborhood Destination Choices of Mixed-Race Couples With Children,” was published in the journal Demography. It may be accessed here.

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  1. This presumes that the couples with one black partner were not financially qualified to purchase in the neighborhoods stratified by income. Was there a subset of couples that did qualify by income, and if so, what were the results in those cases? If there were no couples who met the income criteria, one could argue that the limiting factor was total income, and not necessarily the race of one member of the couple. A similar argument can be made looking at the beneficiaries of gentrification. Is is due to their race, or rather, their collective income. Being a resident of the metropolitan DC area, I would argue it is the latter.

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