Census analysis: Nation's diversity grows, but integration slows

December 15, 2010

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Despite increased racial and ethnic diversity, American neighborhoods continue to be segregated, and some of the progress made toward integration since 1980 has come to a halt this decade, according to a new report by Brown University sociologist John Logan. The report, co-authored by Florida State University sociologist Brian Stults, marks the launch of the US2010 project, a program of research on changes in American society, supported by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University.

"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 Until now, small geographic areas had to rely on outdated 2000 census figures for detailed information about the characteristics of their communities.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: 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: Led by Logan, US2010's 14 research teams from across the country will tackle a broad range of topics that impact all areas of American society. Over the next two years, 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 others. The US2010 project will culminate with a book incorporating all these chapters, published by the Russell Sage Foundation, which has a 50-year tradition of publishing respected, authoritative, census-based research.

"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.
-end-
More information is available on the project webpage: www.s4.brown.edu/us2010.

Brown University

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