Publication Date



Upjohn Institute working paper ; 21-355




Since 1970, the share of Black individuals living in suburbs of larger cities has risen from 16 to 36 percent. We present three facts illustrating how this suburbanization has changed spatial inequality. First, suburbanization entirely accounts for Black households’ relative improvements in several key neighborhood characteristics, while Black city dwellers saw declines. Second, suburbanization accounts for over half of the increase in within-Black income segregation. Selective Black migration and muted suburban “White flight” both contribute to these patterns. Third, total Black population in central cities has plummeted since 2000, driven by young people and declines in high-poverty, majority-Black neighborhoods.

Issue Date

November 2021

Subject Areas

Urban issues


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Bartik, Alexander W. and Evan Mast. 2021. "Black Suburbanization and the Evolution of Spatial Inequality Since 1970." Upjohn Institute Working Paper 21-355. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.