Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Houston: The face of America in the next 20 years

The demographic revolution and the restructured economy in Houston reflect what other US cities will look like in the years to come

Houston is a reflection of where most of America's cities will be in the next 20 years, according to Stephen Klineberg, Rice University sociologist and director of the annual Houston Area Survey.

Klineberg, who has led the study since its inception 28 years ago, said that along with the major immigration capitals of Los Angeles and New York City, and closely following upon Miami, San Francisco and Chicago, Houston is at the forefront of the new diversity that is refashioning the social and political landscape of urban America.

Issues of public discussion such as gay rights and political affiliation could see dramatic shifts as the social and demographic trends occurring here spread to other U.S. cities.

"Throughout all of its history, Houston was essentially a biracial southern city dominated and controlled, in an automatic, taken-for-granted way, by white men," Klineberg said. "Today it is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse metropolitan areas in the country."

In Houston, and elsewhere, the white population is growing older, while most of the younger adults are black and Hispanic. No force in the world will stop Houston (and America) from becoming more Hispanic and less Anglo as the 21st century unfolds.

Houstonians' views on the new immigration and on the region's burgeoning diversity have been affected by the economic anxieties, sometimes in curious ways, Klineberg said. The number of area residents who believe that the new immigration "mostly strengthens" (rather than "threatens") American culture increased to 49 percent this year from 44 percent in 2007. The new number is still lower than the 57 percent in 2005, but higher than the 39 percent in 1997. The percentage of Harris County residents who favor "granting illegal immigrants a path to legal citizenship if they speak English and have no criminal record" rose from 56 percent in 2008 to 61 percent this year, but it too is lower than the 68 percent in 2007.

Klineberg characterized the attitudes toward immigration as "complex" and "volatile," but said he has detected among respondents "less of a sense today than in recent years that we are being overwhelmed by immigrants coming here and threatening our culture." Still, only 64 percent in the 2009 survey agreed that "the children of illegal immigrants should have the right to attend the public schools," down from 71 percent in 2007.

The effects on politics and social issues

The ongoing demographic transformations have also been a factor in local politics over the past 20 years. In 1989, 50 percent of Houstonians considered themselves Republicans, while 39 percent reported being Democrats. This year, 45 percent identify themselves as Democrats and 39 percent say they are Republicans.

The findings on important social issues reveal two quite different trends. Attitudes toward abortion rights have been virtually unchanged for all of the last two decades in Houston, but views on homosexuality have shifted. On virtually every relevant question, support for gay rights in Houston has grown in what Klineberg described as an "unmistakable, consistent increase over time."

The belief that homosexuality is "morally wrong," for example, dropped steadily from 59 percent in 1997 to 46 percent in 2009. The number who said they had a "close personal friend who is gay or lesbian" grew from 44 percent in 2004 to 56 percent today. Support for gay marriage rose to 43 percent in 2009 from 32 percent two years ago. Tolerant attitudes toward homosexuality closely follow age, Klineberg noted, with younger Houstonians more accepting of gays and lesbians. On the other hand, age is not a good predictor of opinions about abortion, he said, suggesting that this may help to explain their different trajectories over the years.

The ability to track attitudes on a variety of subjects over time is what makes the Houston Area Survey so valuable, he said. The survey each year is designed and directed by Klineberg and his undergraduate sociology class at Rice University. The telephone interviews are carried out by the Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston.

David Ruth | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>