Are Barrios Good or Bad? The Effects of Metropolitan Area Segregation On Hispanic Access to Opportunity

Awarded Scholars:
Ingrid Gould Ellen, New York University
Project Date:
Jan 2015
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the MacArthur Foundation

The Hispanic population has grown significantly, from eight million in 1970 to more than 45 million in 2010, making Hispanics the largest minority group in the U.S. Although Hispanics historically have displayed moderate levels of residential segregation (somewhere between the extreme levels of African Americans and the relatively low levels of Asians), the 2010 census revealed that average levels of Hispanic isolation had risen substantially, surpassing average levels among African Americans. Both the high proportion of undocumented migrants and rising public sentiment against the unauthorized may have been contributing factors.

Higher levels of metropolitan area segregation are associated with growing economic inequality and racial stratification. Segregation for blacks is associated with higher mortality rates and low birth weight, and with black-white differences in educational and labor market outcomes. Yet we know little about how increased residential segregation affects the well-being, and the prospects for integration, of Hispanics.

Ingrid Gould Ellen—along with two research fellows at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy (Jorge De la Roca and Justin Steil)—will study whether native-born Hispanics residing in more segregated metropolitan areas fare better or worse, on average, in terms of high school and college graduation, employment rate and earnings, English language proficiency and the likelihood of being an unmarried mother than Hispanics who live in less segregated areas. The study will focus on young native-born Hispanic adults between the ages of 15 and 30—the children and grandchildren of immigrants.


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