Successful revitalization efforts are transforming urban America and have special urgency in Rust Belt metropolises. Economic changes and immigration are rearranging the housing and labor markets in locations such as Chicago and Detroit. Older neighborhoods are redeveloped, new condos are built near downtown while the suburban ring continues to grow. But like most metropolises, they remain divided by race and by huge city-suburban differences in economic status. Will revitalization exacerbate racial polarization or minimize it? This project uses comprehensive and innovative face-to-face surveys in Chicago and Detroit to address ongoing questions and debates about residential segregation. The data gathered will test specific hypotheses about how race itself, racial attitudes, and other factors influence neighborhood segregation on the three steps of residential mobility: the decision to move, the search process, and the selection of the most desirable alternative. In addition, because little is known about the residential choices of recent immigrants and whether white and African-American homeseekers are influenced by the presence of immigrants in a prospective neighborhood, Hispanic neighborhoods will be oversampled in Chicago and, if resources permit, in Detroit. Several methodological innovations will improve the quality of data. For example, computer assisted interviewing will allow a more precise measure of the net effects of neighborhood racial composition independent of other characteristics on neighborhood evaluations.

Broader Impacts: The project itself will be an integral part of graduate training at both universities through practicum courses in survey methods that will involve students in all stages of the research process. The research team itself is diverse, and, in the past, practica on this topic have attracted numerous students and teaching assistants from underrepresented groups. The topic of the study has broad implications for society more generally, as undoubtedly urban policies and immigration will be toward the top of the domestic agenda in coming decades. Survey respondents will receive a report of the results; a highly accessible book describing the consequences of revitalization for Rust Belt metropolises will be written; and a conference at which the results will be presented will target community leaders, urban planners, fair housing activists, and political officials. In addition, the methodological innovations will appeal to those interested in using survey methods to shed light on complex and socially sensitive issues across a wide range of scientific disciplines.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Patricia White
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University of Illinois at Chicago
United States
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