Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Charles Jaret - Chair

Second Advisor

Robert Adelman

Third Advisor

Donald Reitzes


As many American metropolitan areas spread outward, urban sociologists are interested in the effects of sprawl and in efforts to limit suburban expansion. To rein in urban sprawl, land use measures known as “smart growth initiatives” are gaining popularity. Urban growth boundaries are the particular type of initiative examined in this research. An urban growth boundary delineates where development is encouraged and where it is discouraged or prohibited. My first research question is whether urban growth boundaries contribute to the exclusion of racial minorities. I also explore whether urban growth boundaries affect residential segregation. I study 86 places throughout the U.S.: 43 matched pairs of places (with each pair comprised of a place with an urban growth boundary and a place without a boundary but otherwise similar to its partner). I also consider Atlanta, with no constraints on growth, and Portland, Oregon, a smart growth leader. Census data and residential segregation indexes from 1990 and 2000 for whites, blacks, and Hispanics are analyzed. The analysis consists of comparing change in the number of blacks and Hispanics due to in-migration and population growth in places with and without urban growth boundaries, and examining levels of segregation in them. I find that urban growth boundaries do not reduce blacks’ or Hispanics’ in-migration or population size. Also, the preponderance of the results supports the view that urban growth boundaries are not a cause of racial residential segregation.


Included in

Sociology Commons