A Mathematical Model of Edison, NJ

With Edison, NJ in the news, this article from the the good folks over at GNXP is rather timely – a mathematical model for the formation of ethnic enclaves -

…Natural Intelligence has developed an application called the “Ethnic Simulator” that models the residential behavior of people in the hypothetical ethnically diverse city of Metropolis. …The premise of the Ethnic Simulator is that ethnically distinct groups have a modest preference to live among their own kind. In Metropolis there are five ethnic groups –- Blues (the majority), Greens, Reds, Grays, and Yellows. The application allows the user to set the percentage of preference of each group for its own kind.

Outcome? Regardless of how “racist” the majority Blues are, the minority Yellows end up in “ghettos” if they express even the most minor preference for being near each other…. Intuitively obvious perhaps, but interesting to see mathematically modelled.

9 thoughts on “A Mathematical Model of Edison, NJ

  1. Everytime I ask a cab driver in this Northeastern enclave (ok, it’s an enclave of the overeducated, not an ethnic group) I live in where he -it’s usually a he- would like to go it’s always some place like Ohio or Missouri. This question always comes up because I complain about the expense and noise and rudeness and weather, and said cab-driver complains right along! Invariably, they have a brother or cousin or friend who lives in some small town and has a huge house and it’s so peaceful, et cetera. I had a cab driver tell me this: “Ohio is so beautiful.” I have a relative who lives in an ethnic NJ enclave and dreams of the gentle green hills of a particular part of Missouri! Why this fills me with delight, I have no idea….

    I dunno why this post made me think of this, but I always tell them: get away from the enclave! Go where it’s warm and cheap. If only I would take my own advice….

  2. Dude! Schelling did this 40 years ago! At least link to the master.

    In any case, ask yourself this – if people segregate so easily, why do dominant communities use various formal (legal restrictions, discriminatory zoning provisions) and informal (redlining) methods to try to keep minority communities out of their neighborhoods?

    Maybe the model’s assumptions don’t actually hold in the real world …

  3. various formal (legal restrictions, discriminatory zoning provisions) and informal (redlining) methods to try to keep minority communities out of their neighborhoods?

    SF Bay Area is INFAMOUS for the massive formal & informal methods used to “manage” their communities. And yet, Desi & E. Asian abound and, in many communities – such as my old burb of Foster City – actually outnumber white folk by some margin.

    The tools are there but the outcomes you assert don’t seem to hold out here.

  4. vinod, which street were you at? I used to live in Avalon between Foster City Blvd and whatever the next cross street on Hillsdale was.

  5. Vinod – No, the tools work well when used. I doubt that banks in the 90s were redlinining desi engineers. Think about the communities they did redline though …

    Do you really think that people waste alot of time building institutions designed to segregate but then don’t use them?

    Banks don’t care anything about their profits, so they spend alot of time doing useless things?

  6. There is absolutely nothing remarkable about this “finding” or the linked article at all. Beyond “intuitively obvious,” the results are borderline tautological. You mean to say somewhere down the line ethnic groups that prefer living together will live together? That MUST mean that there is no racism in the world!

    Sorry if that logic is obtuse, but its the exact same logic utilized by the article. The model allows users to input a numerical embodiment of each color’s preference for living together. It does not allow for any consideration for certain’s color’s exclusion of certain other colors. Not does it provide any useful information about what informs each minority group’s preferences (racism, cultural pride, something in between).

    Moreover, even if certain groups prefer to live together, that doesn’t mean that it would become a run-down ghetto…systemic deprivation of resources and opportunity have a lot to do with that.

    Leave it to Rightists to utilize absurdly simplified economic and mathematic models (holding all other factors constant, in the “long run”, assuming perfect information, perfect competition, perfect _____, etc.) to the point that their conclusions are mere restatements of the hypotheses….and then to pat each other on the butt for their assertedly “scientific” proofs of their partisan viewpoints.

  7. Banks don’t care anything about their profits, so they spend alot of time doing useless things?

    There’s an inherent contradiction here – redlining DECREASES profits. Gary Becker won his nobel prize for proving (among other things) that Discrimination of this sort reduces the profits of the b/c they’re leaving market oppty’s untapped….

    You mean to say somewhere down the line ethnic groups that prefer living together will live together? That MUST mean that there is no racism in the world!

    No Vurdlife, what it proves is a very simple (but still important) claim — mere existance of enclaves is NOT in and of itself proof of adverse discrimination. That’s it. BUT, alas, in our political climate, those sorts of statistical disparities ARE often used EXACTLY in that manner.