Separated living has many causes
The area has a good recipe for segregated life, a researcher on population trends said.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Areas across the country with declining populations, such as the Youngstown/Warren metropolitan area, are more inclined to have segregated populations.
Those were the general findings of a study conducted by Edward L. Glaeser of Harvard University and the Brookings Institution and Jacob L. Vigdor of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University. In the study, the Youngstown/Warren metropolitan area was found to have a higher rate of segregated living than most other parts of the country.
The study looked at about 300 metropolitan statistical areas across the country where the black population is at least 1,000 people. The Youngstown/Warren MSA includes Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
The slow rate of overall desegregation here is a direct result of the number of residents leaving the area and the number of people who, seemingly, refuse to move into the Mahoning Valley, said Vigdor.
"What we observed was that the declines in segregation across the U.S. were most pronounced in areas that were growing rapidly," he said.
According to Vigdor, this is especially true for areas with a lot of residential development on the outskirts of the MSA.
Vigdor also said older, established communities have reputations of being black or white to contend with, but new developments do not have to face such obstacles. That reputation has yet to be made, leaving potential for a mixed or all-inclusive neighborhood.
"In a lot of the older cities, once a neighborhood gains a reputation as being either a black neighborhood or a white neighborhood, it is very hard to change that," he said.
Vigdor said this is important because it greatly affects those moving into the area. Families four and five decades ago were likely to seek out segregated areas to live; now, families both black and white are more likely to look for some diversity in their communities, he said. But when there is no choice other than an all-black or all-white neighborhood, that same family is likely to move into the neighborhood with those of their own race, he added.
Another factor: The Valley does have some new housing developments and communities being built fairly regularly. Vigdor said these communities may be devoid of blacks for a different reason -- economics.
"To a large extent the barriers that remain are not based on race, but on an individual's socioeconomic status," he said. "When you get right down to it, there are still pretty large racial differences in income and wealth in this country."
Vigdor said some prominent blacks have made it into these upscale areas, but not in significant numbers -- usually about 5 percent to 10 percent of the overall number in the community.