Residential Segregation

Racial residential segregation—or the geographic separation of racial/ethnic groups—often places people into neighborhoods with unequal economic and educational opportunities and access to services. Greater residential segregation is related to poorer health and economic outcomes.

Data from the American Community Survey in 2018 showed that, on average, people across the United States tended to live in neighborhoods that were largely segregated by race/ethnicity. The total population in the United States, in 2018, was approximately 61% non-Hispanic white, 12% non-Hispanic black, 18% Hispanic/Latinx, 5% Asian and 3% other. However, the distribution of races/ethnicities within neighborhoods does not reflect this diversity. On average, an individual who is non-Hispanic white lived in a neighborhood that was 25% non-white, a finding that increased by 1 point since 2017. At the same time, an individual who is black, on average, lived in a neighborhood that was 57% non-black, a finding that shifted one percentage point up since 2017. For other groups, movement to more diverse neighborhoods remains largely unchanged from 2017 to 2018. More racially integrated neighborhoods encourage equitable access to educational and economic opportunities, as well as increased connection among diverse groups of people. And as the nation reckons with issues of systemic racism and race-based polarization, continued racial residential segregation deepens those divides. 

SOURCE: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2018

  • AVERAGE RACIAL/ETHNIC COMPOSITION OF NEIGHBORHOODS, BY INDIVIDUAL RACE/ETHNICITY IN 2018

  • NEIGHBORHOOD POVERTY, BY RACE/ETHNICITY IN 2018

Housing Affordability

Quality, affordable housing is essential to health. Families that are overburdened with housing costs often have difficulty making healthy choices, paying for their health needs, or for other necessities, such as food, clothing, and transportation.

According to the American Community Survey, in 2018, 12% of U.S. residents lived in households which spent 50% or more of their household income on housing costs, representing no change from 2017 but still down from 14% in 2013 (the time of our initial tracking). Significant differences by race/ethnicity remain. In 2018, this housing burden was experienced by 9% of Whites, 18% of Blacks, 16% of Hispanic/Latinx residents, 13% of Asians, and 10% for American Indian/Alaskan Native. Three groups have experienced the steepest decline of 3% in five years since 2014, from 21% to 18% for Black residents, from 19% to 16% for Hispanic/Latinx residents, and from 13% to 10% of American Indian/Alaskan Native. Reducing the severe housing cost burden, particularly among groups experiencing it more than others, is a priority for improving health and well-being and is particularly important given the economic costs of COVID-19 and disproportionate impacts on communities of color.

SOURCE: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2018

  • U.S. POPULATION LIVING IN HOUSEHOLDS SPENDING 50% OR MORE OF HOUSEHOLD INCOME ON HOUSING, BY RACE/ETHNICITY

Enrollment in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education has lifelong benefits ranging from better health and higher earnings to a lower likelihood of being on public assistance or committing a crime.

According to the 2018 American Community Survey, 45% of 3- and 4-year-olds in the U.S. were enrolled in preschool, up from 45% in 2017. As of the 2018-2019 school year, among State-sponsored pre-school programs, only four states (Michigan, Mississippi, Alabama and Rhode Island) met all 10 of National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER’s) quality standards benchmarks, which include markers such as a 1 to 10 staff to child ratio and specific training requirements for lead and assistant teachers. This was up from three states in 2016-2017, with the addition of Mississippi. Five states (Delaware, Maine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia) met 9 out of 10 of those standards; representing an improvement in Delaware and Oklahoma from 2016-2017. A larger percentage of young children enrolled in preschool, and more states meeting quality metrics for State pre-K programs, would suggest an improvement in the availability and quality of early childhood education—a pillar of healthier, more equitable communities.

SOURCE: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2018; National Institute for Early Education Research, 2019

* States in white indicate No Program (No State-Sponsored Pre-K Program)

  • PERCENT OF 3-YEAR OLDS ENROLLED IN STATE PRE-KINDERGARTEN, IN 2018-2019

  • PERCENT OF 4-YEAR OLDS ENROLLED IN IN STATE PRE-KINDERGARTEN, IN 2018-2019

  • STATE PRE-K QUALITY SCORE, IN 2018-2019