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Minority Proximity to Whites in Suburbs: An Individual-Level Analysis of Segregation

A novel method for location analysis at the individual level is used to analyze the determinants of proximity to non-Hispanic whites separately for Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and for non-Hispanic whites themselves. The resulting regression analyses, for which the percentage of non-Hispanic whites in a community serves as the dependent variable, reveal how the familiar P* segregation measure is generated through locational patterns that map racial/ethnic-group members with specific personal and household characteristics into communities with specific mojority-group proportions. The analyses are developed from two complementary theoretical models- spatial assimilation and place stratification-and applied to the suburban communities of the nation's largest metropolitan region, surrounding New York City, as of 1980. Consistent with the place-stratification model, proximity to non-Hispanic whites is very different for members of the white and black groups and little affected by their individual characteristics other than race. By contrast, Asians and Hispanics appear more consistent with the spatial-assimilation model.