2016] IS TAX INCREMENT FINANCING RACIST? 1683
The 20th century introduced radical changes to the landscape of
American cities. An evolving economy and the population’s migration away
from farms and toward cities resulted in massive decreases in labor and farm
jobs, and even greater increases in professional and service employment.1 As
manufacturing and labor moved overseas, incomes surged in the jobs that
took their place.2 These shifts, combined with rapid suburbanization in the
mid- to late-20th century,3 left behind abandoned buildings in the nation’s
At the same time as these shifts altered employment in American cities,
black and Hispanic in-migration caused a dramatic change in the racial and
socioeconomic makeup of central cities.5 The race of in-migrants was the
primary motivation for white flight to suburbs, even controlling for
endogenous locational preferences.6 This combination of deindustrialization
1. Ian D. Wyatt & Daniel E. Hecker, Occupational Changes During the 20th Century, MONTHLY
LAB. REV., Mar. 2006, at 35, 36 chart 1; see also PATRICK J. CARR & MARIA J. KEFALAS, HOLLOWING
OUT THE MIDDLE: THE RURAL BRAIN DRAIN AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AMERICA 4–5 (2009)
(discussing migration from rural to urban areas).
2. See THEODORE CAPLOW ET AL., THE FIRST MEASURED CENTURY: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE
TO TRENDS IN AMERICA, 1900–2000, at 164 (2001) (“Middle-income families —those in the
middle fifth of the aggregate income distribution—saw their average annual in comes, measured
in constant dollars, increase from more than $15,000 in 1929 to more than $47,000 in 1998.”).
3. KENNETH T. JACKSON, CRABGRASS FRONTIER: THE SUBURBANIZATION OF THE UNITED
STATES 4 (1985) (“The 1980 census revealed that more than 40 percent of the national
population . . . lived in the suburbs . . . .”).
4. See generally John Accordino & Gary T. Johnson, Addressing the Vacant and Abandoned
Property Problem, 22 J. URB. AFF. 301 (2000) (describing the barriers to growth created by
abandoned and vacant properties).
5. See DOUGLAS S. MASSEY & NANCY A. DENTON, AMERICAN APARTHEID: SEGREGATION AND
THE MAKING OF THE UNDERCLASS 74–81 (1993) (discussing how racial migration patterns resulted
in “hypersegregation” in cities); John F. Kain, Housing Segregation, Negro Employment, an d
Metropolitan Decentralization, 82 Q.J. ECON. 175, 176–77 (1968) (“The means by which racial
segregation in housing has been maintained are amply documented. They are both legal and
extra-legal; for example: racial covenants; racial zoning; violence or threats of violence;
preemptive purchase; various petty harassments; implicit or explicit collusion by realtors, banks,
mortgage lenders, and other lending agencies; and . . . the Federal Housing Administration
(FHA) and other Federal agencies.” (footnote omitted)); Jay Readey, The Coming Integration, 7
DEPAUL J. SOC. JUST. 15, 27 (2013) (“[A]s black and brown people would move into a
neighborhood, white people would move out—quickly in the 60s and 70s and perhaps more
slowly in recent memory but always with inevitability.”); Leah Platt Boustan, Was Postwar
Suburbanization “White Flight”? Evidence from the Black Migration 21 ( Nat ’l Bu rea u of E con. Res earc h,
Working Paper No. 13543, 2009) (finding a causal connection between white out-migration to
suburbs and black in-migration, controlling for other proposed causes).
6. Boustan, supra note 5, at 19; see also William H. Frey, Central City White Flight: Racial and
Nonracial Causes, 44 AM. SOC. REV. 425, 426 (1979).