Population Research and Policy Review 19: 505–524, 2000.
© 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
The components of density and the dimensions of residential
STEPHANIE A. BOND HUIE & W. PARKER FRISBIE
University of Texas at Austin
Abstract. The purposes of this research are to examine the relationships between density and
residential segregation and to propose a technique for the more precise measurement of social
density. Using data from the 1990 US Census for the ﬁfty eight largest metropolitan areas in
the United States, we explore the applicability of measuring social density by examining how
the dimensions of segregation are related to the components of race-speciﬁc and non-race-
speciﬁc density. Findings suggest that density is an important part of our understanding of the
processes involved in the segregation of race/ethnic groups and further that the measurement of
social density can make a signiﬁcant contribution to research on the concentration of poverty,
joblessness, and violence.
Keywords: concentration of poverty, density, residential segregation
Recent interest in the concentration of poverty thesis (Massey 1986; Massey
& Denton 1993; Massey & Eggers 1990; Massey et al. 1994; Wilson 1987)
and on the concentration of other social phenomenon such as joblessness
(Massey & Shibuya 1995; Wilson 1996) and violence (Massey 1996; Mas-
sey, Condran & Denton 1987), to name a few important themes, raises the
questions of how best to measure concentration and how concentration is
related to residential segregation. Concentration is generally operationalized
as the percentage of individuals within some unit of analysis such as a census
tract that are, for example, poor, jobless, or violent. However, a more precise
measurement of concentration is needed for a more thorough understanding
of how concentration is related to residential segregation.
Beginning the late 1950s and continuing throughout the 1970s, an import-
ant area of research in sociological literature focused on urban density and its
effects on the population. The bulk of this literature examined predominantly
black inner city neighborhoods in large metropolitan areas such as Chicago.
Analyses of urban density established positive relationships between density
and white suburbanization (Taeuber & Taeuber 1969), pathological behavior
(Galle et al.1972), and racial and ethnic segregation (Duncan & Duncan