The Opportunity and the Danger of the New Urban Migration

Richard Sander* 

Twenty-first century America is witnessing a broad and unprecedented migration of middle and upper-middle class families to old, dense, and often low-income urban neighborhoods. This “new urban migration” has the potential to create wholly gentrified neighborhoods that displace existing residents, or to engender racially and economically integrated neighborhoods that strengthen both neighborhoods and central cities. I argue that valuable lessons can be learned from the 1970s, when another large intraurban migration—the vast metropolitan movement of black households into white neighborhoods that followed passage of the Fair Housing Act—produced patterns of resegregation in many cities, but genuine housing integration in others. We now understand what conditions in the 1970s produced resegregative or integrative outcomes. I show that so far, the new urban migration has mostly fostered integration, but that careful, proactive policies that help to disperse this migration can make good long-term outcomes much more likely.

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*Professor of Law, UCLA, and Director, UCLA-RAND Center for Law and Public Policy. Ph.D. (economics), Northwestern University, 1990; J.D., Northwestern University, 1988; B.A., Harvard University, 1978.

 

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