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Dynamic models of segregation†

by Thomas C. Schelling
The Journal of Mathematical Sociology ()

Abstract

Some segregation results from the practices of organizations, some from specialized communication systems, some from correlation with a variable that is non‐random; and some results from the interplay of individual choices. This is an abstract study of the interactive dynamics of discriminatory individual choices. One model is a simulation in which individual members of two recognizable groups distribute themselves in neighborhoods defined by reference to their own locations. A second model is analytic and deals with compartmented space. A final section applies the analytics to ‘neighborhood tipping.’ The systemic effects are found to be overwhelming: there is no simple correspondence of individual incentive to collective results. Exaggerated separation and patterning result from the dynamics of movement. Inferences about individual motives can usually not be drawn from aggregate patterns. Some unexpected phenomena, like density and vacancy, are generated. A general theory of ‘tipping’ begins to emerge.

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