Gentrification without Segregation? Race, Immigration, and Renewal in a Diversifying City

City & Community, a section of the American Sociological Association

Research on how neighborhood racial composition affects where gentrification unfolds yields mixed conclusions, but these studies either capture broad national trends or highly segregated cities. Drawing on the case of Seattle—a majority–White city with low segregation levels and growing ethnoracial diversity—this study uncovers an underexplored mechanism shaping patterns of uneven development and residential selection in the contemporary city: immigrant replenishment. The share of all minorities is negatively associated with gentrification during the 1970s and 1980s, and, in contrast to expectations, shares of Blacks positively predict recent gentrification while shares of Asians negatively predict it. Increased concentrations of recent immigrants in neighborhoods with greater shares of Asians explain these relationships. These findings suggest that where arriving immigrants move limits residential selection in gentrification and shifts pressures to low–cost Black neighborhoods. This study highlights how immigration and points of entry are important factors for understanding uneven development in the contemporary city and has implications for the future of racial stratification as cities transform.