Stanford study finds blacks and Hispanics need higher incomes than whites to live in affluent neighborhoods

June 24, 2015

Sean Reardon's new research reveals troubling patterns of racial segregation that could constrain upward mobility for black and Hispanic families.

Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Education have found that black and Hispanic families effectively need much higher incomes than white families to live in comparably affluent neighborhoods.

As a result, middle-income black and Hispanic households are much more likely to live in poor neighborhoods — which tend to have weaker schools, more crime and bigger social problems — than whites or Asians who earn the same amount of money. This segregation may be constraining the upward mobility of black and Hispanic children compared with their white and Asian peers.

The disparities occur at every rung on the income ladder. A black household with an annual income of $50,000, for example, lives on average in a neighborhood in which the median income is $42,579. A typical Latino household with the same income lives in one only slightly better. But white households with exactly the same income will on average live in neighborhoods where the median income is almost $53,000 — about 25 percent higher.

Among black and white households with incomes of $100,000, the neighborhood affluence gap is 20 percent.