National Institute on Aging

University Study Finds a Rise in “Global Neighborhoods” in U.S. Urban Areas

cityA new study by researchers at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater finds that in urban areas there is a far higher level of racial integration in residential areas than was the case a generation ago.

The study examined residential demographic data in 342 metropolitan areas with populations of more than 50,000 people between 1980 and 2010. John Logan, professor of sociology at Brown University and a co-author of the study stated that “In the decades before 1980, the usual pattern was that when Blacks entered a neighborhood, Whites were already leaving and White flight was accelerated.”

Now the data shows that in many cases urban tracts have become what the authors call “global neighborhoods” with significant populations of Asians, Hispanics, Whites, and Blacks. The authors write that “Hispanics and Asians provide an effective social cushion and/or spatial separation between Blacks and Whites in integrated communities. This absorbs tensions and fosters acceptance between groups, making it possible for Blacks and Whites to share a neighborhood despite racial barriers in the society at large.”

Alongside the rise of global neighborhoods, there has been a significant increase in neighborhoods that are almost all Black or all Hispanic or a combination of the two groups, according to the analysis of the demographic data. The “all minority” neighborhoods have increased by 50 percent over the past three decades, according to the authors.

The study “Global Neighborhoods: Beyond the Multiethnic Metropolis,” was published on the website of the journal Demography. It may be accessed here.


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