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Blacks Suffer From ‘Hypersegregation’ in Major Cities, Study Finds

August 4, 1989

CHICAGO (AP) _ Various forms of segregation that isolate blacks in major cities, depriving them of opportunities and resources, are creating a separate society of underachievers, researchers say.

The authors of a study released Thursday by the University of Chicago call such multi-layer discrimination ″hypersegregation.″

Professors Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton say they found that hypersegregati on exists in 10 cities, and that those cities account for 29 percent of the country’s urban black population. Chicago was found to be the most hypersegregated city.

″There is a small set of cities in the United States where blacks experience more extreme segregation than believed in the past,″ said Massey, a professor of sociology and director of the school’s Population Research Center.

″While the cities are small in number, they house a relatively large percentage of blacks.″

In the study - published in today’s editions of Demography, the journal of Washington-based Population Association of America - Massey and Denton focused on five measures of segregation:

- The degree to which neighborhood percentages of minority-group residents correspond to the citywide minority percentages.

- The degree of potential contact between whites and members of the minority group where the latter live and work.

- The extent to which minority neighborhoods are clustered.

- The degree to which minorities are settled in and around the city center.

- The amount of physical space occupied by a minority group.

Hypersegregation occurs when at least four of those measures apply, Massey and Denton said.

Using data gathered in 1980 by the U.S. Census Bureau, the researchers used the five measures to compute housing patterns for blacks and Hispanics in 60 metropolitan areas.

In Chicago, blacks had an index above .750 on each of the five measures. A reading of .600 is considered high, researchers say.

The study found hypersegregation of blacks in nine other cities: Baltimore; Cleveland; Detroit; Gary, Ind.; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Newark, N.J.; St. Louis; and Philadelphia.

The researchers found no hypersegregation of Hispanics in the nation’s urban areas.

Housing patterns that fall into any one of the five categories are troublesome because they isolate a minority group from amenities, opportunities and resources that affect social and economic well-being, the researchers said.

Language is the best and most sensitive indicator of social isolation and creation of a divergent cultures, Massey said.

″Black English vernacular is becoming more prevalent and almost a separate language,″ he noted. ″It has its own diction and structure, and it is because of isolation. The two groups don’t interact. They are not sharing a common language.″

The demographics of blacks and whites are different, with blacks having a higher infant mortality rate and a shorter life expectancy, Massey said. Black child-bearing is concentrated between ages 18 and 25, while whites generally delay having children until later in life.

″It is like living in two different nations,″ Massey said.

Hispanics experienced lower degrees of segregation overall.

The differences in treatment of the two minority groups are not easily explained by socioeconomic factors, he said - which leaves racism.

″Hispanics are primarily white,″ he said. ″They are apparently more accepted as neighbors than blacks. There is something about blacks that disturbs whites. It is a complex psychological process.″

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