What is it about?

Residential segregation is often seen as the outcome of individual choice if not overt discrimination, and previous work have shown that even a small degree of homophily, the desire to live among like neighbors, can lead to a starkly segregated population. This study re-examines a key basis for that finding, the assumption that homophily is based on exogenous and immutable group identities. Instead, we consider a homophily that arises from the desire to be with neighbors who are behaviorally similar, not necessarily those who have the same group identity. The distinction matters because behaviors are neither exogenous nor immutable but choices that can change as individuals adapt to their neighborhoods.

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Why is it important?

Effectively addressing residential segregation requires a deeper understanding of how individual behaviors play a role in the patterns of segregation we observe in cities. This work shows that if individuals’ desire to be with like neighbors are based not on individuals’ attributes that are immutable but on behaviors that are adaptable, then the resulting residential dynamics yield integration rather than segregation as the typical outcome. However, segregation reemerges when income inequality and housing costs are introduced. The findings emphasize the role of both the nature of homophily and income inequality in creating patterns of residential segregation.

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This page is a summary of: Homophily, selection, and choice in segregation models, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2024, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2313752121.
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