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Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The Shifting Landscape of Diversity in Metro America


Black Only Population, Change in Location Quotient, 2000-2010

My latest post is online over at New Geography. It’s called “The Shifting Landscape of Diversity in Metro America.” In it I use location quotients to track which metros have boosted their concentration in various ethnic groups, and also for children. It’s kind of an experimental analysis but I hope you enjoy it.

7 Comments
Topics: Demographic Analysis

7 Responses to “The Shifting Landscape of Diversity in Metro America”

  1. Rob R says:

    Great use of maps to portray trends that can’t accurately be described in simple terms with a couple of sentences of narrative… As a commenter on New Geography suggested, I’d love to see a map of the change in white only population to complete the picture. If I understand this correctly, it could be inferred based on the other trends (unless mixed race is also a major demographic?), but a graphic would help visualize this… e.g. if LA seems to be losing black, Latino, and Asian populations percentage-wise, then the proportion of whites there would have to be increasing.

    It might also be interesting to see a map of some sort of diversity quotient, maybe displaying the % of population represented by the majority racial group in each region.

  2. DBR96A says:

    The maps at New Geography illustrate just how rapidly eastern Pennsylvania has diversified in the last 10 years.

  3. pete-rock says:

    Aaron, I really enjoyed seeing the analysis you provided in the New Geography story. As an African-American concerned with our nation’s changing demographic dynamics, what stuck out to me was the change in African-American location quotient nationwide and the ramifications of the shift. I related your article to the “State of Metropolitan America” report done by Brookings last year.

    If you saw that you might recall that Brookings identified seven different metro area typologies based on growth, diversity and educational attainment. What I’m seeing is that African-Americans are moving from what Brookings called Diverse Giant and Industrial Core metros (New York, LA, Chicago and DC being the former; Detroit, New Orleans and Birmingham being the latter). And they’re moving to New Heartland and Skilled Anchor metros (Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Indy; Boston, Philly, Buffalo and Pittsburgh).

    I see this as significant because blacks appear to be avoiding the metros that have the strongest long-term economic prospects, if global cities means anything — the Next Frontier metros like DC, Austin and Denver, and the aforementioned Diverse Giants. Metros like New York, LA, SF and Miami already have networks that connect them to the global economy, and metros like Seattle, Tucson and Dallas are currently building them. True enough, the Skilled Anchor metros may have strong global networks that will further strengthen over time. However, I have a feeling that metros that didn’t spend the time to develop the global network will suffer economically, and the black population that moved there for short-term economic gain will suffer as well.

  4. Matthew Hall says:

    pete-rock, your comments are very perceptive. I’ve noticed again and again that even when individual american blacks get on a path to increased education and wealth, they don’t seem to stay on it. Once they feel that they “have enough” they turn away from larger american society and back to a black separatism in various ways, big and small, including geographically. Separate but equal still seems to be the desire of many blacks, even if they havent’ gotten to economic equality yet. Maybe it is just two steps forward and one step back.

  5. pete-rock says:

    Matthew, I would disagree with that point a little, especially as it relates to the shifting metro dynamic. I don’t think middle-class blacks are moving from Chicago to Atlanta, for example, as a black separatist/self-segregation tactic; they’re moving to find better economic opportunities, and going to places where they believe they’re most welcome. And not necessarily in that order.

    That actually gets to part of my answer for why this may be happening. Many Next Frontier metros like an Austin or Seattle have relatively small black populations, and could be perceived by some blacks as lacking in the cultural amenities they like (I’m talking perception, not reality). Furthermore, blacks could be said to be experiencing some competition from Latinos and Asians in Diverse Giant metros, prompting them to seek opportunities elsewhere. For those same reasons blacks may be avoiding what Brookings calls the Border Growth metros (like Phoenix, Orlando and San Antonio) and the Mid-Sized Magnet metros (like Boise, Jacksonville and Oklahoma City). So what’s left? The New Heartland and Skilled Anchor metros they’re moving to, and the Industrial Core metros they’re moving from.

    If anybody’s confused by these descriptions I’d recommend going to the Brookings website and downloading the “State of Metropolitan America” report.

  6. Matthew Hall says:

    While the small number of Middle class blacks moving to places where they have been few blacks do seem to be embracing real economic opportunities, many other Middle-class Blacks see Atlanta, D.c. or a handful of other southern metros as a way to access black economic networks. It is just that those networks don’t have the economic advantages that other ethnic economic networks have had.

  7. Alon Levy says:

    You can analyze a lot of the attitudes toward immigration in the same manner. It used to be that immigrants to the US and Hispanics (two growing groups with large overlap) clustered in New York and New Jersey, California, Florida, and Texas. This is less the case today. Nowadays, you’ll find them in Chicago, and Atlanta, and parts of Texas that were not traditional immigrant meccas (e.g. Dallas), and the Interior West.

    My guess is that it comes from a wider variety of immigrant networks. The reason Italians emigrated to New York in the 1900s, and Puerto Ricans did in the 1950, was that the city had established networks of people from the same country, speaking the same language, etc. This sort of isolation then leads more immigrants to cluster in the same cities. But it doesn’t last forever, and people do sometimes spread out; once it reaches critical mass, the incentive to emigrate to the original center disappears, and immigrants bypass it entirely.

    I suspect the same thing is true for black people. Atlanta of 1965 was not a nice place to be black in; it was better than the other Southern cities, but not better than the Northern cities. But 2012 is not 1965, and now there are established networks of black businesses, black middle-class suburbs, etc.

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