If you’re Indiana University Ph.D. student Samuel H. Kye, you’ve been thinking about housing market preferences for people who have grown up mostly in segregated neighborhoods.
Kye’s research examines a key assumption for those in cities like Chicago or Dallas or Minneapolis or beyond that are seeking ways to counter the racial and economic segregation resulting from racist policies and the racist practices among lenders and real estate agents — the assumption that people today actually want to live in racially and economically integrated neighborhoods.
So far, Kye has found, that assumption is incorrect, at least when it comes to white residents.
In a paper, called “The persistence of white flight in middle-class suburbia,” published in the May issue of the journal Social Science Research, Kye’s findings show that white residents are likely to move out of neighborhoods when black, Hispanic, and Asian residents become a greater share of neighborhood population. Adding class to the equation, Kye found that middle-class white residents are more likely to move out than poor white residents.
“It really takes away the legs of that counterargument, that these are decisions that are largely being driven by socioeconomic differences,” Kye tells Next City. “Where we see white flight today, race still remains a fundamental factor motivating these moves.”
His findings challenge what Kye calls the “racial proxy hypothesis,” which holds that white residents choose to leave neighborhoods not because of their racial makeup but because of conditions related to poverty and instability. Kye’s conclusions suggest the opposite: White flight is actually more common in stable middle-class communities than in poor ones.
To identify communities in which white flight occurred, Kye looked at census tracts that lost at least white residents between 2000 and 2010. Kye determined that white flight occurred in those tracts if the total proportion of white residents also shrunk by at least 25 percent