Detroit is the most segregated city in the U.S., new study finds

Posted at 9:06 AM, Jun 21, 2021

(WXYZ) — Detroit is the most segregated city in the United States, according to a new study that was released Monday from the University of California Berkley's Othering & Belonging Institute.

The report, titled "The Roots of Structural Racism," found that 169 of 209 metro areas in the U.S. have increased their levels of segregation between 1990 and 2019.

According to the report, Detroit ranks as the most segregated city with populations of more than 200,000 in the U.S., with an 84% divergence index.

The divergence index, according to the institute, "compares the relative proportions of racial groups (or any other groups) at smaller and larger geographies, looking for the degree of 'divergence' between two geographies."

The report also compares the difference in income and poverty levels, home values, life expectancy and rent prices between highly-segregated communities of color, highly0segregated white areas and integrated areas.

Segregated white regions turned out best, while segregated Black and Brown communities fared the worst, according to the report.

"Although the American public has much greater awareness of the reality of systemic racial inequality, too few people understand that racial residential segregation lies at the heart of this inequality," Stephen Menendian, the lead author on the project, said. "This is evidenced by how residential segregation determines access to schools, healthy neighborhoods, jobs, and surveillance by police."

According to the study, Black or Hispanic people who grew up in segregated white neighborhoods found their incomes higher than those in communities of color.

An interactive map that shows different regions shows that the metro Detroit area, Ann Arbor, Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids and more areas have a "high segregation" level. No counties or areas in the state are "racially integrated."

"Detroit's Black population today stands at about 78 percent, the highest proportion of any city in the United States. In contrast, the metro area, including Detroit, is only 23 percent Black, and 68 percent white, making Detroit the most segregated city in the United States. Like many northern cities, Detroit’s population of Black residents can be traced back to the Great Migration (1916-1970). Black Americans fled the South en masse seeking jobs and fleeing Jim Crow. By 1920 Detroit became the fourth largest city in the US. While the city’s population remained over 90 percent white, the Black population in Detroit grew 611 percent between 1910 and 1920," the map reads when you click on the metro area.

“We believe that this is one of the most sophisticated and powerful tools for understanding the nature and extent of racial residential segregation in the United States. Users can go as deep as they want using our tool to understand this problem,” explained Samir Gambhir, report co-author and head of the institute's Equity Metrics program.

Other cities that are the most segregated are Hialeah City, Fla. at No. 2, Newark, N.J., third, Chicago and then Milwaukee.