This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

US Urban Scene Getting Demographically More Complex

Two recent articles in The Atlantic Cities illustrate the increasing demographic complexity of urban life in the US. Both stories build on comparisons of 2010 census data with previous censuses. The first story is fascinating in that it shows that despite long-term declines in residential segregation, in some cities levels of residential segregation by race/ethnicity are unchanging, even at the same time that the demographic composition of the cities in question is becoming more diverse.
Nationwide statistics suggest more blacks and whites now live side-by-side, but plenty of communities have seen no such effect. It appears as if the once-prevalent all-white neighborhood has gone virtually extinct. But its all-black counterpart has not. The number of multi-ethnic neighborhoods in America is on the rise, but recent research suggests that when blacks move out of predominantly black neighborhoods, they usually head to… other predominantly black neighborhoods.
Researchers Richard Wright, Steven R. Holloway, and Mark Ellis have offered a more useful way to think about this: New forms of diversity are emerging in America, but so, too, are new forms of segregation. 
Rather than thinking of segregation and diversity as being on a continuum from segregated to diverse, moving linearly between those two points, our research admits to the possibility of folds in that continuum. You can have segregation and diversity in the same place, at the same time.
This story has a bunch of great maps and a video interview with Professor Wright--well worth your time exploring this.

The second story comes from William Frey at the Brookings Institution who has noticed that in some cities, the city center is growing faster than the suburbs.
According to his analysis of the 51 metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people, the primary cities in those metros grew an average of 1.1 percent, compared with 0.9 percent growth in the suburban areas of those metros between July 2010 and July 2011. Metros like New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. saw their urban populations grow faster than their suburban populations, while metros like Baltimore, Detroit, and Jacksonville saw higher growth in their suburban areas than the central cities.
San Diego was not included in the research, but my own analysis in San Diego showed that the only census tracts in the county that became more white non-Hispanic between 2000 and 2010 were right on the edge of downtown, in a gentrifying neighborhood.

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