Spatial Assimilation in U.S. Cities and Communities? Emerging Patterns of Hispanic Segregation from Blacks and Whites

This article provides a geographically inclusive empirical framework for studying changing U.S. patterns of Hispanic segregation. Whether Hispanics have joined the American mainstream depends in part on whether they translate upward mobility into residence patterns that mirror the rest of the nation. Based on block and place data from the 1990–2010 decennial censuses, our results provide evidence of increasing spatial assimilation among Hispanics, both nationally and in new immigrant destinations. Segregation from whites declined across the urban size-of-place hierarchy and in new destinations. Hispanics are also less segregated from whites than from blacks, but declines in Hispanic-black segregation have exceeded declines in Hispanic-white segregation. This result is consistent with the notion of U.S. Hispanics as a racialized population—one in which members sometimes lack the freedom to join whites in better communities. Hispanic income was significantly associated with less segregation from whites, but income inequality alone does not explain overall Hispanic segregation, which remains high. The segmented assimilation of Hispanics that we observe supports two seemingly contradictory theories: both the idea that spatial assimilation can come from economic and cultural assimilation and the notion that economic mobility is no guarantee of residential integration.


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Daniel T. Lichter,
Domenico Parisi,
Michael C. Taquino


Sage Publications

Publication Date: 

July 2015