Diversity Grows, Integration Slows
WASHINGTON – Small declines in black/white segregation in recent decades are at a standstill. After
two decades in which segregation was extremely high but falling slowly, there has been virtually no change
since 2000, a new report from the US2010 Census Project reveals.
“This is a surprising result,” said Brown University sociology professor John Logan, director of US2010 and
co-author of the report. “At worst it was expected that there would be continued slow progress. The growth
of the black middle class, the passage of time since Fair Housing Laws were enacted, and the evidence from
surveys that white Americans are becoming more tolerant of black neighbors all pointed in that direction.”
New data released today from the Census Bureau – the first tract-level results from the 2005-2009 American
Community Survey – offer our first look at post-2000 trends. “As the U.S. Census long form has been
eliminated, the American Community Survey has emerged over the past few years as a major source of
information about social and economic changes in American society,” Logan said.
Later today, the full report can be downloaded at http://www.s4.brown.edu/us2010/projects/authors_su.htm.
The main findings:
- The average non-Hispanic white person continues to live in a neighborhood that looks very different
from those neighborhoods where the average black, Hispanic, and Asian live. The average white
person in metropolitan American lives in a neighborhood that is 77% white. Still, this represents
growing diversity compared to 1980, when the average was 88% white.
- The average black American in metropolitan areas lives in a census tract that is majority black. It
appears the same will soon be true for Hispanics. On average 48% of their neighbors are Hispanic,
and this value is growing steadily over time.
- Blacks continue to be the most segregated minority, followed by Hispanics and then Asians. But
another surprise in the new data is that while black-white and Hispanic-white segregation is almost
the same today as in 2000, segregation of Asians from whites has begun to increase. It is now almost
as high as segregation of Hispanics.
"Segregation is a characteristic of metropolitan areas, but it is based on the composition of neighborhoods
within those areas,” Stults said. "The most common measure of segregation is the Index of Dissimilarity,
which measures how evenly two groups are spread across neighborhoods.
“Its lowest possible value is zero, which indicates that the percentage of each group in every neighborhood is
the same as their overall percentage in the metropolitan area. The highest value of 100 indicates that the two
groups live in completely different neighborhoods.” By this measure, black-white segregation averaged 65.2
in 2000 and 62.7 now. Hispanic-white segregation was 51.6 in 2000 versus 50.0 today. And Asian-white
segregation has gone up from 42.1 in 2000 to 45.9 now.
Information on the levels of segregation in every metropolitan area of the nation, for its constituent central
city and suburban portions, and for all cities over 10,000 population can be viewed HERE.
Logan and Stults’ research on segregation marks the launch of US2010, a program of research on changes in
American society in the recent past, supported by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University. Over
a two-year span, 14 research teams – 26 researchers total from universities all over the U.S. -- will tackle a
broad range of topics that impact all areas of American society.
Led by Logan, they will release short briefs and a chapter-length report on their research areas, which
include immigration, segregation, economics, education, aging, and the changing American family, among
"The special feature of US2010 is that it tackles questions of change in American society not from the
perspective of one scholar or one topic, but with the expertise of a nationwide team of scholars who were
brought together for this purpose," Logan said.