Firm Turnover and the Return of Racial Establishment Segregation

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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.




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

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