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Joe T. Darden - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Joe T. Darden Joe T. Darden

Professor | Michigan State University


An expert on urban residential segregation, fair housing issues and neighborhood racial/socioeconomic inequality.



Joe T. Darden Publication Joe T. Darden Publication Joe T. Darden Publication






Joe Darden is the former Dean of Urban Affairs Programs from 1984 – 1997. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1984. He is a former Fulbright Scholar, Department of Geography, University of Toronto, 1997 to 1998.

Industry Expertise (5)

Writing and Editing


Mental Health Care



Areas of Expertise (5)

Socioeconomic Inequality

Racial Inequality

Urban Affairs


Racial Protests

Education (1)

University of Pittsburgh: Ph.D. 1972

News (3)

Michigan Takes On Its Deadly Cities

The Wall Street Journal  


"Any approach has to be attached to the socioeconomic deprivation in these cities," said Joe Darden, professor of urban geography at Michigan State University in East Lansing. "Just putting a bunch of new police officers on the streets isn't going to solve the long-term problem."...

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Minority faculty rates increasing, but not for black community

The State News  


MSU geography professor Joe Darden arrived on campus in 1972 and has been faculty at MSU ever since, becoming a full professor in 1980. Darden said there have been ups and downs for black faculty in his time at MSU, but overall not much has changed through roughly 45 years. “When I arrived here in ‘72, there were efforts to increase the black faculty, it was constant pressure on university administration to do that during the early ‘70s,” Darden said. “Pressure does work in some sense, because it focuses more on action and it gets the administration in a mode to try to deliver on that.”...

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Why Detroit Exploded in the Summer of 1967

Atlantic CityLab  


As historians Joe Darden and Richard Thomas detail in their 2015 book “Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts, and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide,” the Detroit police essentially functioned as enforcers of segregation—“the first line of white defense against the invading ‘black hordes’ that, if not checked, would overwhelm surrounding white neighborhoods.” In other words, if Detroit’s black residents protested or were in the wrong place at the wrong time, the reaction of the police could be swift and brutal...

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Journal Articles (6)

Social and economic consequences of black residential segregation by neighbourhood socioeconomic characteristics: The case of Metropolitan Detroit

Urban Studies

Joe Darden, Ron Malega, Rebecca Stallings

2018 Although research has been done by social scientists on the inability of blacks to use income, like whites, to purchase a home or to rent an apartment in a less disadvantaged neighbourhood, we argue that most past researchers have been limited in the variables they have used to characterise neighbourhoods. Most researchers have overwhelmingly used a single variable – median income. We argue that a single variable is not sufficient to capture the life experiences of children and adults in neighbourhoods.

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The Measurement of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Characteristics and Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White Residential Segregation in Metropolitan Detroit

Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences

Joe T. Darden, Luis Rubalcava

2018 In the United States, past research has shown that Hispanics are less residentially segregated from non-Hispanic Whites than are Blacks. Such research has also shown that like Blacks, Hispanic households are located in poorer neighborhoods than are the average lower-income non-Hispanic White households. However, such studies have been limited for two reasons: (1) they have used a single variable, income, to characterize neighborhoods which is not sufficient to capture the complexity of such areas; and (2) such studies have not focused on Metropolitan Detroit where, unlike in many other large metropolitan areas, the Hispanic population is relatively small and concentrated within a large majority Black central city.

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The relationship of neighborhood socioeconomic differences and racial residential segregation to childhood blood lead levels in Metropolitan Detroit

Journal of Urban Health

Moody, Heather A., Joe T. Darden, Bruce Wm Pigozzi

2016 This study uses a new approach to assess the impact of different neighborhood characteristics on blood lead levels (BLLs) of black versus white children in metropolitan Detroit. Data were obtained from the Michigan Department of Community Health and the US Bureau of the Census American Community Survey. The Modified Darden-Kamel Composite Socioeconomic Index, bivariate regression, and the index of dissimilarity were used to compute neighborhood BLL unevenness by neighborhood characteristics. Neighborhoods with lower socioeconomic characteristics and high racial residential segregation predicted higher average childhood BLLs. This reveals a social spatial structure that will aid researchers/policymakers in better understanding disparities in childhood BLLs.

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The racial gap in childhood blood lead levels related to socioeconomic position of residence in metropolitan Detroit

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

Heather Moody, Joe T. Darden, Bruce Wm. Pigozzi

2015 Childhood lead poisoning in the United States remains a persistent, prevalent environmental public health problem, especially for children living in central-city neighborhoods. These neighborhoods typically are racially segregated, are in proximity to current and/or legacy lead emission sources, consist of older housing, and contain disproportionately African American or black children of low-income families. This research had two aims: (1) to determine whether average blood lead levels (BLLs) in children in the Detroit metropolitan area are related to the socioeconomic characteristics of the neighborhoods where they live and (2) to determine the estimated effect residential differences in the socioeconomic characteristics of neighborhoods have on average BLLs in non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white children. Data on pediatric BLLs were obtained from the Michigan Department of Community Health, and racial and socioeconomic data were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2006–2010). The modified Darden-Kamel Composite Socioeconomic Index, multiple regression, and difference-of-means tests were used to determine the effect residential socioeconomic characteristics of neighborhoods have on average BLLs. Black segregated neighborhoods with lower socioeconomic characteristics were predictors of higher average BLLs in the children who lived there. When black and white children resided in neighborhoods of similar socioeconomic characteristics, the black-white gap in BLLs lessened. Significantly, after stratifying black and white children by age, living in the same neighborhoods of the lowest socioeconomic characteristics negated the black-white racial gap in BLLs entirely, but increasing levels of socioeconomic characteristics exacerbated the divide.

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Spatial Methods to Study Local Racial Residential Segregation and Infant Health in Detroit, Michigan

Annals of the Association of American Geographers

Sue Grady, Joe Darden

2012 Over the last several decades, blacks in the United States have experienced substantial health disadvantages compared to other racial and ethnic groups. These disadvantages have been observed for important types of morbidity and early mortality, which public health interventions have achieved limited progress in improving. A promising new direction in health geographic research investigates the relationships among racial residential segregation, neighborhood socioeconomic inequality, and racial health disparities in urban areas of the United States. Historical evidence shows that as class isolation increases in racially segregated neighborhoods, poverty is concentrated, resulting in reduced opportunities and available and accessible amenities and resources, important factors in the promotion and maintenance of population health and well-being. Contemporary evidence shows that the ability to modify the structural constraints that create and exacerbate these unhealthy “place” environments are limited by social and public health policies. This study therefore explores modifiable pathways by which to inform social and public health policy to improve the health of black residents living in concentrated poverty. The historical context of racial residential segregation and neighborhood socioeconomic inequality in the United States is reviewed. A contemporary case study of racial disparities in low birth weight in the Detroit, Michigan, metropolitan area is also presented to demonstrate the persistence of racial health disparities. To address racial health disparities it is recommended that future health policy be linked to housing policy as a way to provide social mobility options for residents living in racially segregated, concentrated poverty neighborhoods.

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The Measurement of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Characteristics and Black and White Residential Segregation in Metropolitan Detroit: Implications for the Study of Social Disparities in Health

Annals of the Association of American Geographers

Joe Darden, Mohammad Rahbar, Louise Jezierski, Min Li and Ellen Velie


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