OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: HOW LATINO SEGREGATION AFFECTS POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AND POLICY OUTCOMES
Pearson-Merkowitz, Shanna Helena
Kaufmann, Karen M.
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This dissertation evaluates the intersection of place and politics as it pertains to the effect of residential segregation on the civic engagement and political power of Latino Americans. Famously described by W.E.B. Du Bois as the problem of the 20th century, racial segregation persists in the United States, and while residential segregation has declined marginally for African Americans over the past 15 years, it has increased significantly for Latinos during this same period. Using a variety of data sets and methodological approaches, I investigate the socio-political consequences of this growing residential divide. I argue that segregation not only precludes socioeconomic mobility for Latinos, it also decreases their likelihood of civic engagement and political participation. Latinos who live in residential isolation are more likely to be economically marginalized and less politically powerful than their less segregated counterparts. Further, the marginalization of the Latino community has political consequences. Segregation concentrates Latinos into political jurisdictions where they must compete for resources with more politically powerful groups. As a result, their neighborhoods and needs are ignored by politicians and bureaucrats. To correct their under-representation in the political arena, participation among Latinos is essential. The findings of this dissertation call into question the stability of democracy if Latinos do not start participating at a higher rate, with the fate of the nation resting in part on the political and social mobility of its largest and fastest growing minority group.