The geography of black household affluency
Malega, Ronald William
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Race continues to be important for understanding many social and spatial outcomes. African Americans have been the subject of scholarly and policy interest, especially with regard to the black ghetto. Much of this interest has not appreciated the diversity within the black community experience, especially with regard to the intersection of race, class, and place. This dissertation seeks to address this shortcoming by examining the way race and class intersect to affect the geography of affluent black households. Using a national sample of 2000 census tract and metropolitan area data, I argue that affluent black households are subject to the negative effects of the nation’s racial structure. Chapter 2 examines outcomes for affluent black households in terms of residential segregation and neighborhood quality. Findings suggest affluent black households are highly segregated from whites and even more segregated from their white economic peers. Furthermore, affluent black households live in neighborhoods of lower quality than do their white peers. Chapter 3 contrasts two commonly presented theories of neighborhood attainment, spatial assimilation and place stratification, to determine which one offers greater insight into understanding the processes associated with the neighborhood aggregation of affluent black households. Results from negative binomial regression indicate place stratification theory offers the better description—finding such aggregations are positively associated with black neighborhood socioeconomic status and negatively associated with white status. At the neighborhood-level, neighborhood quality and demographic factors prove important. At the metropolitan-level, residential segregation, racial composition, and regional location are important. Chapter 4 explores variation in the metropolitan-level black affluency rate and argues black households favor metropolitan areas characterized by opportunity structures. Regression analysis shows that employment in manufacturing and those sectors associated with economic restructuring (i.e., professional services, public administration, education/health, FIRE) impact black affluency rates. Results indicate the black-white income ratio has the single greatest impact on black affluency rates. Additionally, metropolitan-level diversity, black neighborhood poverty, and black suburbanization influence metropolitan black affluency rates. This dissertation fundamentally reinforces the importance of recognizing and addressing black diversity when seeking to understand spatial outcomes for African Americans.