The Misunderstood Consequences of Shelley V. Kraemer

Yana Kucheva, University of California, Los Angeles
Richard Sander, University of California, Los Angeles

Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) is one of the most celebrated decisions in the history of the United States Supreme Court. Nevertheless, some have argued that it was largely superfluous, because blacks lacked the capacity to enforce their rights and white neighborhoods and institutions had other methods available to stop black entry. Oddly enough, no one (to our knowledge) has ever undertaken an empirical examination of how Shelley changed the housing opportunities of affected minorities – blacks in particular, but Jews, Asians, and Hispanics as well. In this paper, we attempt such an evaluation, and we find strong support for the proposition that Shelley had a dramatic impact upon the housing opportunities available to blacks. Just as important, we find that this shift in opportunities changed the dynamics of black ghettos in ways that have important implications for basic debates about urban policy and the black underclass.

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Presented in Session 155: Racial and Ethnic Residential Segregation Dynamics