Public Release: 

Separate and unequal in suburbia

Brown University

A new research brief from the US2010 Project probes the status of minorities in American suburbs. Suburbs in 2010 were as racially and ethnically diverse as were central cities in 1980, and that diversity is still increasing. Yet minorities are not finding equal access to the American dream in the suburbs where they live, a lesson illustrated recently by Ferguson, MO.

Suburbia has always been less segregated than central cities. Segregation is slowly declining between suburban blacks and whites, but has stayed about the same for Hispanics and Asians over three decades. These trends mirror what is happening for metro areas as a whole.

"There are no surprises in the suburban trends in segregation," said US 2010 Project Director John Logan, author of the study and a Brown University sociologist. "What may surprise most people is that suburban blacks and Hispanics are separated into neighborhoods that offer so much less than the neighborhoods of whites and Asians."

The study shows that suburban blacks and Hispanics live in much higher poverty neighborhoods than whites and Asians, even when they earn the same incomes. Their households earning over $75,000 live in neighborhoods with a higher poverty rate than white households earning less than $40,000.

In addition, black and Hispanic children attend suburban schools that are well below average in test performance, while white and Asian children's suburban schools are above the 60th percentile in their state.

To download the brief, see

Logan's research on segregation is part of US2010, a program of research on changes in American society in the recent past, supported by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University.

"The special feature of US2010 is that it tackles questions of change in American society not from the perspective of one scholar or one topic, but with the expertise of a nationwide team of scholars who were brought together for this purpose," Logan said.


More information is available on the project webpage:

The US2010 project has produced a 13-chapter book published by the Russell Sage Foundation, which has a 50-year tradition of publishing respected, authoritative, census-based research. The book, Diversity and Disparities: America Enters a New Century, is an e-book and is available for free download --

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