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.