Racial Segregation in Interwar United States: A Dynamic Segregation Approach

Trevor Kollmann, RMIT University
Sandy Suardi, La Trobe University
Emilia Perez-Orselli, La Trobe University

Between 1910 and 1950, more than 3.5 million African Americans migrated from the south, largely to northern, urban areas (Collins 1997). Yet when they arrived, they found themselves often limited in their choice of neighborhoods via racially restrictive covenants (Brooks 2011). This paper follows the dynamic segregation literature of Schelling (1971) and Card, Mas, Rothstein (2008) to explore whether neighborhoods in interwar cities in the United States demonstrated “tipping behavior” and how these tipping points evolved over time. We accomplish this using census-tract data from both the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census via the NHGIS as well as data collected from various Real Property Inventories from 1934. Preliminary results suggest that tipping behavior did occur, although they were typically lower than those found in the modern era via Card, Mas, Rothstein (2008) with the exception of DC and Chicago.

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Presented in Session 84: Urban Change in the United States