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POLITICS/URBAN AFFAIRS/DEMOGRAPHICS: Housing, postwar white flight to suburbs?: Commentary (Leah Boustan), "The Culprits Behind White Flight" ....  

***Housing, postwar white flight to suburbs?....

* New York Times (Op-Ed: Leah Boustan):  "The Culprits Behind White Flight" - From the NYT:

Princeton, N.J. — In Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” the detective Hercule Poirot proposes an improbable theory to explain an improbable murder: Maybe they all did it. Twelve riders each stabbed the victim once, making it impossible to know who struck the fatal blow.

Poirot’s solution offers some insight into a debate among journalists and Democratic strategists: Was Donald Trump’s surprise victory due to his voters’ racism or their economic anxiety? The right answer might be that it was both.

A similar question of “whodunit” inspired my research on the history of postwar white flight. White movement to the suburbs coincided with a period of substantial black migration out of the rural South: From 1940 to 1970, four million blacks settled in industrial cities in the North and West. As they moved in, the fraction of white metropolitan households living in the typical Northern or Western central city fell from two-thirds to one-third.

Ta-Nehisi Coates refers to the white exodus as a “triumph of racist social engineering,” and he is not wrong. Many white households moved to suburban towns precisely because black households were effectively excluded from them by real estate agents and mortgage brokers. But that’s not the whole story. Even in cities like Minneapolis-St. Paul that had few black migrants, the suburbs were a magnet for newly prosperous families after World War II seeking larger houses and more open space. And so I found myself caught in the same debate: Did whites leave cities for racial reasons or for economic ones?

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