Despite long-term, documented declines in racialized attitudes, racial inequality persists. Scholars have theorized why this dissonance exists but few have empirically demonstrated how views can become more progressive while simultaneously maintaining inequality. The present study uses neighbourhood racial preferences and their influence on racial residential segregation to demonstrate how in a diversifying context residents can become more “accepting” while simultaneously maintaining the racial hierarchy, the opposite of what most of the literature currently assumes. Using data from three distinct sources in the United States, this research finds that U.S. residents are increasingly willing to live amidst diversity yet whites still concentrate in white neighbourhoods. In short, white Americans are more willing to live in diverse neighbourhoods than in the past, but they are not willing to desegregate. We argue this preserves racial inequality. We conclude with a discussion of our findings and their implications for future research and practice.


In recent years, researchers have increasingly noted the malleability of racial boundaries across time, context, and life course. Although this research has advanced our knowledge of the maintenance and perceptions of racial groups, it has introduced a new question: If we are attempting to best capture the actual variation in racial inequality, how should we operationalize race? Using the 2006 wave of the Portraits of American Life Study, a national-level, in-home survey with extensive race measures and oversamples of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, the authors identify five ways that race can be and to varying degrees is operationalized: census, combined race/ethnic, pentagon, triracial, and skin tone measures. Using the Vuong non-nested model tests, the authors compare the effectiveness of these five measurements in predicting three measures of social inequality: household income, education, and self-rated health. The authors find that overall, Hollinger’s ethnoracial pentagon is best able to capture existing inequality. Thus, for scholars attempting to understand variation in contemporary racial inequality, this research suggests that scholars should use five monoracial categories: White, Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian.

We investigate the relationship between stereotypes of immigrants and assessments of the impact of immigration on U.S. society. Our analysis exploits a split-ballot survey of registered voters in Ohio, who were asked to evaluate both the characteristics of one of four randomly assigned immigrant groups and perceived impacts of immigration. We find that associations between impact assessments and stereotypes of Middle Eastern, Asian, and European immigrants are weak and fully attenuated by control covariates. By contrast, this relationship for Latin American immigrants is strong and robust to controls, particularly in the areas of unemployment, schools, and crime. Our findings suggest that public views of the impacts of immigration are strongly connected to beliefs about the traits of Latin American immigrants in particular.


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