White Ethnic Residential Segregation in Historical Perspective: U.S. Cities in 1880

John R. Logan, Brown University
Weiwei Zhang, Brown University

Investigating immigrant residential patterns in 1880 offers a baseline for understanding subsequent assimilation trajectories. This study uses complete information from the 1880 Census to tabulate the neighborhood characteristics of 66 cities for Irish and German residents. The analysis measures segregation across groups in each city and estimates the effects of individual and city-level variables on the exposure of ethnic group members to the native white population. Neighborhoods are defined in two ways: by enumeration districts and by the specific local street segment the person lives on. Results are better defined at a finer geographic scale. We find support for some assimilation hypotheses about who lived in more mixed neighborhoods. We also find substantial effects of contextual factors including regional location, city population size, the relative size of the immigrant groups, and group-specific characteristics in each city such as their mean occupational standing and occupational segregation from native whites.

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Presented in Session 155: Racial and Ethnic Residential Segregation Dynamics