Segregation by income increased every decade from 1970 to 2010, while racial segregation in the U.S. is on the decline. To see what’s leading to the increase, Michael C. Lens and Paavo Monkkonen explored the relationship between land use regulation and segregation by income using new measures for the 95 biggest cities in the country, in a paper published in the Journal of the American Planning Association and on Taylor & Francis Online.

We find that density restrictions are associated with the segregation of the wealthy and middle income, but not the poor. We also find that more local pressure to regulate land use is linked to higher rates of income segregation, but that more state control is connected to lower-income segregation.

The two researchers say planners at the local level need assistance from regional and state efforts to ameliorate income segregation. Inclusionary housing requirements have a greater potential to reduce income segregation than bringing higher-income households into lower-income parts of the city. Finally, comprehensive and consistent data on the impacts of local land use regulations should be collected to inform future research and planning practice.

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