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Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality, 1992-1994: [Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles] (ICPSR 2535)

Published: Apr 23, 2008

Principal Investigator(s):
Lawrence Bobo, Harvard University; James Johnson, University of North Carolina; Barry Bluestone, University of Massachusetts-Boston; Irene Browne, Emory University; Sheldon Danziger, University of Michigan; Philip Moss; Gary P. Green, University of Wisconsin; Harry Holzer, Michigan State University; Joleen Kirschenman; Maria Krysan, Pennsylvania State University; Camille Zubrinsky Charles, University of Pennsylvania; Michael Massagli, University of Massachusetts-Boston; Melvin Oliver, Ford Foundation; Reynolds Farley, Russell Sage Foundation; Chris Tilly

Version V3

The Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality was designed to broaden the understanding of how changing labor market dynamics, racial attitudes and stereotypes, and racial residential segregation act singly and in concert to foster contemporary urban inequality. This data collection comprises data for two surveys: a survey of households and a survey of employers. Multistage area probability sampling of adult residents took place in four metropolitan areas: Atlanta (April 1992-September 1992), Boston (May 1993-November 1994), Detroit (April-September 1992), and Los Angeles (September 1993-August 1994). The combined four-city data file in Part 1 contains data on survey questions that were asked in households in at least two of the four survey cities. Questions on labor market dynamics included industry, hours worked per week, length of time on job, earnings before taxes, size of employer, benefits provided, instances of harassment and discrimination, and searching for work within particular areas of the metropolis in which the respondent resided. Questions covering racial attitudes and attitudes about inequality centered on the attitudes and beliefs that whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians hold about one another, including amount of discrimination, perceptions about wealth and intelligence, ability to be self-supporting, ability to speak English, involvement with drugs and gangs, the fairness of job training and educational assistance policies, and the fairness of hiring and promotion preferences. Residential segregation issues were studied through measures of neighborhood quality and satisfaction, and preferences regarding the racial/ethnic mix of neighborhoods. Other topics included residence and housing, neighborhood characteristics, family income structure, networks and social functioning, and interviewer observations. Demographic information on household respondents was also elicited, including length of residence, education, housing status, monthly rent or mortgage payment, marital status, gender, age, race, household composition, citizenship status, language spoken in the home, ability to read and speak English, political affiliation, and religion. The data in Part 2 represent a telephone survey of current business establishments in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles carried out between spring 1992 and spring 1995 to learn about hiring and vacancies, particularly for jobs requiring just a high school education. An employer size-weighted, stratified, probability sample (approximately two-thirds of the cases) was drawn from regional employment directories, and a probability sample (the other third of the cases) was drawn from the current or most recent employer reported by respondents to the household survey in Part 1. Employers were queried about characteristics of their firms, including composition of the firm's labor force, vacant positions, the person most recently hired and his or her salary, hours worked per week, educational qualifications, promotions, the firm's recruiting and hiring methods, and demographic information for the respondent, job applicants, the firm's customers, and the firm's labor force, including age, education, race, and gender.

Bobo, Lawrence, Johnson, James, Bluestone, Barry, Browne, Irene, Danziger, Sheldon, Moss, Philip, … Tilly, Chris. Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality, 1992-1994: [Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles]. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-04-23.

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Russell Sage Foundation

Ford Foundation

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1992 -- 1994

1992 -- 1994

Two weights are provided in Part 1: a post-stratified nonresponse adjusted household weight and a person weight. Four weights are provided in Part 2.

The data files in Parts 1 and 2 can be linked.

This collection has not been processed by ICPSR staff. ICPSR is distributing the data and documentation for this collection in essentially the same form in which they were received. When appropriate, hardcopy documentation has been converted to machine-readable form and variables have been recoded to ensure respondents' anonymity.

Part 1: Multistage area probability sample. Part 2: Size-weighted, stratified, probability sample.

Part 1: Adult residents in four selected metropolitan areas in the United States (Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles), Part 2: Active business establishments in the same four areas.

personal interviews

survey data



1998-08-28 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.

2000-03-21 Logical record length versions of both datasets are now available, in addition to the SPSS portable files previously released. In addition, a STATA version of Part 1, Household Survey, is provided. Also, SAS and SPSS data definition statements for both datasets have been created.

1998-10-15 Part 1 data have been revised to correct rounding errors in integer variables, and Part 2 has been added to the collection.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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This study is provided by ICPSR. ICPSR provides leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for a diverse and expanding social science research community.