Friday, July 13, 2018

A history of unforced segregation

A not especially surprising insight but rarely discussed or documented. It is there in most history books but never taken note of. We think of segregation as primarily a race issue but it has always been far more complex than that - segregation by ethnicity, religion, class, etc.. And segregation arising mostly for contextual reasons rather than as repressive and imposed policy. From The Ethnic Segregation of Immigrants in the United States from 1850 to 1940 by Katherine Eriksson and Zachary A. Ward.
We provide the first estimates of ethnic segregation between 1850 and 1940 that cover the entire United States and are consistent across time and space. To do so, we adapt the Logan-Parman method to immigrants by measuring segregation based on the nativity of the next-door neighbor. In addition to providing a consistent measure of segregation, we also document new patterns such as the high levels of segregation in rural areas, in small factory towns and for non-European sources. Early 20th century immigrants spatially assimilated at a slow rate, leaving immigrants’ lived experience distinct from natives for decades after arrival.
This is consistent with David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, discussing four distinct cultural immigrations from the British Isles to North America; Quakers, Puritans, Cavaliers, and the Scotch-Irish - distinct cultures, histories and distinctly different new circumstances. No one forced segregation of these groups but it was easily 100-250 years for them to broadly integrate with one another culturally and geographically.

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