Relatively few black or white families are relocating to an otherwise growing number of diverse neighborhoods in the United States, according to a study published Thursday.
Writing in this month's American Sociological Review, a team of sociologists examined the "mobility patterns" of black and white families that moved house between 1977 and 2005 within their own metropolitan areas.
Of the 9,940 moves undertaken by black families, 43.7 percent were to predominately black neighborhoods, the researchers found. Among the 8,823 white families who moved, the proportion going to white areas was 56.8 percent.
Only 17.7 percent of blacks relocated to multiethnic districts -- those with populations at least 10 percent black, at least 10 percent Asian or Hispanic, and at least 40 percent white. Among whites, the figure was 5.6 percent.
"We pay a lot of attention to this proliferation of multiethnic neighborhoods, but they are still only a small part of the overall inter-neighborhood mobility picture for blacks and whites," said lead author Kyle Crowder, a sociology professor at the University of Washington.
"The truth is, when it comes to eliminating residential segregation, we still have a long way to go," she added.
Crowder said her team's study underscored a need for governments to pursue ways to address residential segregation, which influences crime rates, health care and exposure to pollution.
"When people say, 'Segregation is going away' and 'We don't need to worry about it anymore,' those are messages that people will latch onto quickly," she said. "Unfortunately, those types of statements are just untrue."