Firm Turnover and the Return of Racial Establishment Segregation

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Abstract

Racial segregation between U.S. workplaces is greater today than it was a generation ago. This increase happened alongside declines in within-establishment occupational segregation, on which most prior research has focused. We examine more than 40 years of longitudinal data on the racial employment composition of every large private-sector workplace in the United States to calculate between- and within-establishment trends in racial employment segregation over time. We demonstrate that the return of racial establishment segregation owes little to within-establishment processes, but rather stems from differences in the turnover rates of more and less homogeneous workplaces. Present research on employment segregation focuses mainly on within-firm processes. By doing so, scholars may be overstating the country’s progress on employment integration and ignoring other avenues of intervention that may give greater leverage for further integrating firms.

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Ferguson, J. P., & Koning, R. (2018). Firm Turnover and the Return of Racial Establishment Segregation. American Sociological Review, 83(3), 445–474. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122418767438

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