Different Types of Segregation and Their Impacts

4 Types of Segregation

The separation of people in areas based on different factors, such as their money or race. It can occur in many forms, and can be both voluntary and imposed by society.

Examples of segregation include all-boys and all-girls schools, ghettos and retirement villages. These are often a result of racial discrimination and inequality practices, but can also be due to self-selection.

1. Economic Segregation

The quality of a person’s neighborhood is crucial to economic well-being, yet people live in neighborhoods with varying access to critical resources like affordable housing, full-service grocery stores, healthy parks and reliable transportation. This inequality stunts house price appreciation, undermines homeowner wealth accumulation, limits job opportunities, limits educational attainment and incomes and contributes to high crime rates.

Class segregation is often influenced by local policies that create fiscal incentives for affluent households to exclude poor families from their neighborhoods through zoning and other forms of residential allocation policy. However, other factors can also influence a city’s class segregation, such as private school choice and the local socio-demographic context.

A Pew Research analysis uses a measure called the Residential Income Segregation Index to rank metropolitan areas’ urban neighborhoods and suburbs by their level of class segregation. The analysis finds that even as racial segregation is declining, patterns of class segregation are growing in many metropolitan areas.

2. Social Segregation

Many different forms of segregation exist, and they often overlap. They are often based on characteristics that people cannot control, like race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Segregation can also be self-imposed, such as by groups that reject the dominant culture in their host society and choose to live apart from it.

Segregation can also be imposed by government or social policies. For example, segregation can occur when cities, towns and neighborhoods are divided by zoning ordinances, restrictive covenants or violence that are enforced on a racial basis. Other causes of segregation can include housing discrimination or the targeted advertising of mortgage products to minority communities.

Residential segregation is often associated with unequal access to resources such as quality schools, full-service grocery stores, safe and healthy parks and transportation. Segregation is also linked to health outcomes, including lower levels of access to and utilization of medical services and higher rates of obesity-related illnesses.

3. Physical Segregation

The physical segregation of groups based on their social, cultural or economic characteristics can take many forms. It can be as obvious as racial segregation between white and black people, or the separation of children with disabilities from general classrooms. It can also be more subtle, like the ghettoization of poor communities in cities or all-boys and all-girls schools.

It can even be geographical, where different ethnic or religious groups reside in separate neighborhoods based on land and housing prices. Segregation can be imposed by governments, like in the case of apartheid in South Africa, or it can occur naturally and slowly, like when wealthy people move to certain areas of a city while lower income families stay away.

This kind of data is useful because it allows researchers to measure and analyze patterns of social and spatial segregation that might not be so obvious to the public eye. It can be used to design better integrated cities, for example, by deploying efficient public transportation systems or urban planning strategies that foster a more polycentric city structure.

4. Ethnic Segregation

Race and ethnic segregation is a form of discrimination against people based on their skin color. This type of segregation denies civil rights to individuals and significantly affects their daily lives. It can occur as a result of laws, such as apartheid in South Africa or Jewish ghettoization in Germany in the 20th century. Segregation can also be enforced by government policies such as housing development or redevelopment projects in urban cities. The construction of highways in the United States has reinforced racial segregation by blocking Black communities from access to downtown areas.

Segregation can happen on a small or large scale and can be a result of laws, social norms or self-selection. It is important to understand that segregation can have a negative impact on all groups of people. It is particularly detrimental to minority groups who are more likely to experience discrimination based on their ethnicity. In addition, it can have a negative effect on economic and social services, which can lead to increased poverty in lower socio-economic areas.

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