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 study the causes and consequences of this shift, which involved as many people as the post-World War II wave of the Great Migration. We show that Black suburbanization is widespread across regions and suburban neighborhood types, while Black and total population have declined drastically in historically majority-Black city neighborhoods. A neighborhood choice model suggests that changes in relative housing prices and amenities each explain 30 to 50 percent of the shift to the suburbs, while rising education levels and regional reallocation together explain 10 percent. Next, we find that suburbanization accounts for over half of both the recent increase in within-Black income segregation and the improvement in the average Black household’s neighborhood quality. Suburbanization’s association with stratification is partially explained by low White flight and differentials in the supply of low-cost housing.

Issue Date

November 2021; Revised July 2022


Upjohn project #69115

Subject Areas

Urban issues


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Bartik, Alexander W. and Evan Mast. 2022. "Black Suburbanization: Causes and Consequences of a Transformation of American Cities." Upjohn Institute Working Paper 21-355. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.