While increasing pattern of racial segregation has been observed in the face of recent massive immigration of minority populations into the US, pockets of spatial concentration of Blacks and Whites persist. A recent analysis of the geographic diversity in race and ethnicity in Washington, DC Metropolitan Area by Washington Post, 2011, found significant desegregation patterns depicted in the following table.

Table 1: Racial Concentration Index for Washington Metropolitan Area1

Geographical Area

Racial Concentration Index > 85%2

1990 Census

2000 Census

2010 Census

Northern Virginia


Fairfax County


Loudoun County






Washington, DC



From the table, the percentage of the neighborhoods in which 85% or more of the populations are of the same race or ethnicity, characterized as “racial/ethnic enclaves”, declined significantly in Northern Virginia to 14% in Loudoun County in 2010 from 75% in 1990 census, being only 2% for Fairfax County and 5% for Northern Virginia as a whole. Declines in Maryland and Washington DC , though significant, were less dramatic.

HYPOTHESIS: This paper will attempt to explain empirically, the emerging pattern of spatial desegregation in Washington, DC depicted above, and in particular, the pockets of racial concentration in the city. We postulate that the change in spatial distribution of demographic groups is influenced by age, family size, education, population growth, household income and other economic characteristics. Specifically, changing demographics is a function of a vector of those socio-economic variables. Our dependent variable metric is an “exposure” index after Schnare, 1977 and Armor, 1978, measured at the census tract level.

  • 1. Source: From “The New American Neighborhood”, Washington Post, 10/30/11
  • 2. Represents single-race domination (racial enclave) of census tract by 85% or greater