Population Research and Policy Review 17: 369–387, 1998.
1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Housing discrimination and residential mobility:
Impacts for blacks and whites
SCOTT J. SOUTH & KYLE D. CROWDER
Department of Sociology, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY, USA
Abstract. We merge metropolitan-level measures of racial discrimination in housing markets
derived from two national housing audit studies, along with tract-level 1980 census data,
with the 1979–1985 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the impact of
housing discrimination on patterns of residential mobility between neighborhoods of varying
racial composition. We ﬁnd no evidence that housing discrimination in the metropolitan area
impedes African Americans’ mobility into whiter neighborhoods. Contrary to expectations, in
multivariate analyses based on black movers, the level of housing discrimination is positively
associated with the percentage of the population that is white in the tract of destination.
Housing discrimination against African Americans is positively associated with the rate at
which mobile white households move into whiter census tracts. These ﬁndings imply that
eliminating racial discrimination by real estate and rental agents will fail to increase black
residential mobility into racially-mixed and predominantly white neighborhoods. For both
black and white households, life-cycle factors, such as age, children, and home ownership,
impede mobility out of the current neighborhood. Conditional upon moving, socioeconomic
resources, such as education and income, facilitate mobility into whiter neighborhoods.
Key words: Discrimination, Migration, Mobility, Race, Segregation
Explanationsfor thepersistentlyhigh levelsof racialresidential segregationin
US metropolitan areas continue to generate lively debate (Clark 1986, 1988,
1989; Galster 1988, 1989). Particular attention has focused on the role of
racial discrimination in the housing market, which has been argued to impede
African-American mobility out of predominantly black neighborhoods into
racially-mixed and predominantly white areas (Galster 1991; Yinger 1995).
Yet, while it is recognized that the patterns and determinants of local resi-
dential mobility differ for blacks and whites (South & Deane 1993; South
& Crowder 1996), and that these racially-differentiated patterns of residen-
tial mobility constitute the primary dynamic shaping changes in segregation
(Massey et al. 1994), no study has attempted to establish a direct link between
housing discrimination and either blacks’ mobility propensities or neighbor-
hood destinations. More generally, while residential mobility and housing