Firm Turnover and the Return of Racial Establishment Segregation

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Description: Racial segregation between American workplaces is greater today than it was a generation ago. This increase has happened alongside the declines in within-establishment occupational segregation on which most prior research has focused. We examine more than 40 years of longitudinal data on the racial employment composition of every large private-sector workplace in the United States to calculate between-area, between-establishment, and within-establishment trends in racial employment segregation over time. We demonstrate that the return of racial establishment segregation owes little to within-establishment processes but rather stems from differences in the turnover rates of more- and less-homogeneous workplaces. Present research on employment segregation focuses intently on within-firm processes. By doing so, we may be overstating what progress has been made on employment integration and ignoring other avenues of intervention that may give greater leverage for further integrating firms.

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