Racial Separation at Home and Work: Segregation in Residential and Workplace Settings

Matthew Hall, John Iceland, Youngmin Yi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Racial segregation has long characterized urban life in the U.S., with research consistently showing that minority groups occupy different social spaces than whites. While past scholarship has focused largely on residential contexts, a considerable portion of individuals’ days is spent outside of the home and existing research misses the potential for cross-group contact in non-residential contexts. In this paper, we assess the levels and patterns of segregation in the environments where people spend their workday, for white, black, Hispanic, and Asian workers. Using commuting data from the Census Transportation Planning Package, we construct measures of racial composition in “workhoods” and compare metropolitan-level segregation in places of work and home. Results indicate that workhood segregation is substantially lower than residential segregation. Black-white segregation in work settings is, for example, half the level of black-white segregation in residential settings. Multivariate analyses also reveal that workhood segregation, for all groups, is higher in metropolitan areas with greater residential segregation. For Hispanic workers, areas with larger immigrant populations have higher workhood segregation, and for blacks, workhood segregation is lower in metropolitan areas with large military populations. Our findings also consistently show that black and Hispanic workhood segregation is lower in areas where minority groups are more occupationally disadvantaged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-694
Number of pages24
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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