We argue that existing studies underestimate the degree to which racial change leads to residential segregation in post-Civil Rights American neighborhoods. This is because previous studies only measure the presence of racial groups in neighborhoods, not the degree of integration among those groups. As a result, those studies do not detect gradual racial succession that ends in racially segregated neighborhoods. We demonstrate how a new approach based on growth mixture models can be used to identify patterns of racial change that distinguish between durable integration and gradual racial succession. We use this approach to identify common trajectories of neighborhood racial change among blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians from 1970 to 2010 in the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston metropolitan areas. We show that many nominally integrated neighborhoods have experienced gradual succession. For blacks, this succession has caused the gradual concentric diffusion of the ghetto; in contrast, Latino and Asian growth has dispersed throughout both cities and suburbs in the metropolitan areas. Durable integration has come about largely in the suburbs.
The fragmented evolution of racial integration since the civil rights movement