"This is a surprising result," said Logan, director of Brown's Initiative in Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences and director of US2010. "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 legislation was enacted, and the evidence from surveys that white Americans are becoming more tolerant of black neighbors all pointed in that direction."
Logan and Stults analyzed data from the American Community Survey (ACS) released for the first time yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The ACS gives estimates on social, economic, housing, and demographic statistics for every community in the nation. Until now, small geographic areas had to rely on outdated 2000 census figures for detailed information about the characteristics of their communities.
Logan and Stults' main findings:
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 percent of their neighbors are Hispanic and this value is growing steadily.
Blacks continue to be the most segregated minority, followed by Hispanics and then Asians. 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.
Progress in residential segregation between blacks and whites since 2000 was even less than in the 1980s. Segregation peaked around 1960. Between 1980 and 2000 it declined at a very slow pace, but analysts have been hoping for a breakthrough since then. The new data show that there is very little change.
To analyze segregation, Logan and Stults used the Index of Dissimilarity, which measures how evenly two groups are spread across neighborhoods. The 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 areas. 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.
"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.
More information is available on the project webpage: www.s4.brown.edu/us2010
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