Census 2000 Shows Residential Segregation of Minorities Remains High

Contact: Vincent Reda, 518-437-4985

Despite America's growing black middle class, newly released data from the 2000 Census reveal widespread persistence in the residential segregation of African Americans from whites in metropolitan areas, says University at Albany demographer John Logan.

"These findings will disappoint those who had hoped that the growth of the black middle class, enforcement of fair housing laws, and reports of declining racial prejudice among whites would translate into more integrated neighborhoods in cities and suburbs," said Logan, a distinguished professor of sociology and director of UAlbany's Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research.

A team of researchers from the Mumford Center has analyzed data for 64 metropolitan regions to date, including those in such diverse states as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Logan observes that black population growth was strongly oriented toward the suburbs in most of these metropolitan regions. Traditionally this would be expected to reflect lowered barriers to equal housing opportunity. But in fact racial segregation declined slightly in the cities but increased in suburbia, yielding little net change. The average African American in these areas still lives in a census tract that is 60% black.

Hispanics and Asians, who have historically been less segregated from whites than have African Americans, also saw no change in levels of segregation. In fact, there are strong signs that both groups are becoming more concentrated in their own ethnic neighborhoods and less exposed to whites. Logan suggests that this trend is largely due to the rapid growth of these groups through immigration. Though they increasingly settle directly in the suburbs, their distinctive situation in terms of language, job skills, and social networks fosters residential enclaves.

One unexpected pattern revealed by the 2000 Census is a reduction in African Americans' segregation from the new immigrant groups. Researchers had already noticed a tendency for Hispanics to move into or near to black urban neighborhoods by 1990, but blacks were often even more segregated from Asians than from whites at that time. Logan points out that as all three of these minority groups increasingly share the same neighborhoods, the new patterns of interaction are likely to include both cooperation and conflict.

Further evidence of trends in intergroup relations will become available in the coming week, when the Bureau of the Census will release data for additional states with large metropolitan centers, including Texas, Illinois, Ohio, and New York.

[Results, including summaries of overall trends and analyses for individual metropolitan regions, can be viewed through the Mumford Center's web site (https://www.albany.edu/mumford/census), and can be downloaded as Excel spreadsheets. Contact for further information: John Logan, 518-442-4656. Email j.logan@albany.edu.]

The following text is the current "national trends" overview on the Mumford center web site: https://www.albany.edu/mumford/census.

The Census 2000 data confirm the continuation of some powerful trends from the 1980-1990 decade, and also provide new evidence about residential segregation at the beginning of this century.

Minority growth and movement toward suburbia

The Hispanic and Asian minorities continued to grow rapidly, increasing 50-100% in many areas. Their expansion has been widely commented on in early media reports. The black population also increased, though at a less rapid rate. Notable is the relative stagnation of the white population in many regions. For example, while the Philadelphia metropolis grew by 250,000, its white population actually dropped 100,000.

In Newark and Jersey City, NJ, the Hispanic population grew by a third to a half, and Asians by about 70%. These groups' rate of growth rate was substantially higher in other metropolitan areas in the state. In the other very large metropolitan areas that are fully reported (these include Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh), both groups grew by at least 50%. There is one exception. The Hispanic community in New Orleans, already a little more than 4% of the population in 1990, has scarcely increased.

Minority suburbanization also continued, and suburbs are now more racially and ethnically diverse - and more like central cities in this respect - than ever before. Blacks, Asians, and especially Hispanics shifted their populations from cities to suburbs at a faster rate than did non-Hispanic whites. Suburban Bergen-Passaic, NJ, is now less than two-thirds white

Again this trend is very visible in New Jersey. The black population in Newark's suburbs increased by nearly 80,000 (up about a third from 1990), and by 60,000 in Bergen-Passaic (more than doubling). The Hispanic population expanded by 60-90% in largely suburban metropolitan areas such as Bergen-Passaic, Monmouth-Ocean, and Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon. Asians, for their part, grew by as much as 140% in Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon.

There were comparable rates of minority suburban growth in New Orleans, Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, and much higher rates (though starting from very small initial numbers) in Milwaukee and Indianapolis.

Segregation from whites, mixing among minorities

Urban scholars have been less sure of what to expect in terms of the residential segregation of these groups. As immigration has swelled the ranks of Hispanics and Asians, and suburbanization has increasingly involved minorities of all kinds, some have anticipated a breakdown of traditional patterns of segregation. A particularly cogent argument has been that a more multi-hued metropolis would lower the barriers to residential integration of African Americans.

In fact, what is most evident from the early releases is the continuing durability of other groups' segregation from non-Hispanic whites. The most often used measure of segregation (the Index of Dissimilarity, indicating what portion of one group would have to move in order to achieve full integration with another group) is almost unchanged. In a typical case, the index dropped just one point in Pittsburgh, declining a little more than that in the city but increasing in the suburbs, where blacks were moving.

For the fully reported metropolitan areas as of March 10, the average dissimilarity index value of blacks with whites (after weighting in order to count more heavily those with larger black populations) was 69.9 in 1990 and 68.8 in 2000. It declined by 2 points in the central cities, but rose by 1 point in suburbs, overall. The average African American in these areas lived in a census tract that was 61% black and 33% white in 1990, and in a tract that was 59% black and 32% white in 2000.

The situation is quite similar for Hispanics and Asians. It appears that as these two groups grew in size, their own ethnic residential communities became more concentrated, while their residential exposure to whites declined markedly. In Allentown, where the Hispanic population nearly doubled, the white-Hispanic index of segregation rose four points. In Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, where the Asian population more than doubled, the white-Asian index rose eleven points.

The average dissimilarity index of Hispanics with non-Hispanic whites (weighting for the size of the Hispanic population) increased from 53.3 to 54.4, and for Asians (weighting for the size of the Asian population) from 43.8 to 44.2 - essentially unchanged. The average Hispanic person in these areas lived in a census tract that was 27% Hispanic and 53% white in 1990, increasing to 30% Hispanic and dropping to 47% white in 2000. The average Asian's tract was 8% Asian and 75% white in 1990, rising to 13% Asian and falling to 66% white in 2000.

Finally, there is a significant shift in the relationship between African Americans, on the one hand, and both Hispanics and Asians on the other. Some observers had already noticed in 1990 a tendency for Hispanic immigrants to settle in or near black neighborhoods, though it appeared that Asians avoided these locales. By 2000, the early indications are that blacks have become more residentially integrated with both of these largely immigrant groups. In Indianapolis, where a traditionally large African population faces growing new minorities, black segregation from Hispanics has declined by nine points and from Asians by seven points.

Weighting by the size of the black population, the average black-Hispanic dissimilarity index value declined from 62.8 to 55.6, and the black-Asian index from 72.5 to 66.3. These changes in the range of 6-7 points are considered to be very significant. Further, there were small increases in the average black person's exposure to Hispanics and Asians, and conversely in the average Hispanic or Asian's exposure to blacks.

From these population numbers, of course, we cannot draw any conclusions about the character of relations among racial and ethnic groups. Does residential proximity lead to more contacts and better relationships, or does it generate new tensions? Such questions surely will become more important to urban researchers in light of the overall population shifts. Meanwhile, the Lewis Mumford Center invites you to examine more closely the population and segregation trends in individual metropolitan areas.

For more University at Albany information, visit our World Wide Web site at https://www.albany.edu.

March 12, 2001


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