Conspicuous Chameleons: The Role of Visibility and Tolerance in the Segregation of Minorities

Average Local Tolerance by US State


When choosing a neighborhood, ethnic minorities must trade off co-locating with similar individuals, who will support them as one of their own, and co-locating with majority individuals, who are better placed to help improve their prospects. I present a simple model characterizing how this trade-off varies depending on the visibility of the minority and the city’s tolerance. Consistent with the theory, US data on Hispanics shows that minority individuals with roots in countries with greater European heritage — less distinguishable from US whites — are more likely to co-locate with non-Hispanic whites and that the effect is stronger in less tolerant cities.

Dmitri Kirpichev
Dmitri Kirpichev
Ph.D. in Economics