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Mapping the Microcosms of Segregation
Researchers from the MIT Media Lab have developed a map that measures segregation by considering the places frequented by people in different income groups in Boston, reports Tanvi Misra:
The resulting “Atlas of Inequality” reveals a taxonomy of places in the city that tend to be more diverse and those that tend to be more economically homogenous. Among the most equal places, [Esteban] Moro and his colleagues found, are museums and airports. Schools, on the other hand, are among the least.
The map shows that establishments can be located very close to one another — two coffeeshops on either side of the street, for example — but the economic backgrounds of the people using those spaces can differ considerably. The researchers say the findings suggest that segregation should not just be measured at the broader census-tract level since micro-level interactions are important as well.
"Where we get coffee, where we buy groceries, and where we grab take-out often reflect our choices, which determine the kinds of people we interact with every day. Or, these habits reflect our constraints—and show what places are accessible and welcoming to certain groups of people," notes Misra.