Living Together: A New Look at Racial and Ethnic Integration in Metropolitan Neighborhoods

Findings

An analysis of the changing racial and ethnic profile of neighborhoods in America's 10 largest metropolitan areas between 1990 and 2000 reveals that:

  • The number of predominantly white neighborhoods fell by 30 percent during the 1990s. Neighborhoods with a mixed white and Hispanic or Asian population replaced predominantly white communities as the most common neighborhood type by 2000.

  • Nine of the 10 metro areas saw an increase in mixed-race neighborhoods. In Boston, Chicago, and Detroit, neighborhoods with a mix of whites and Hispanics or Asians fueled this increase. In Dallas, Houston, New York, and Washington, D.C., neighborhoods with a mix of blacks and Hispanics or Asians multiplied most rapidly.

  • Over the decade, whites and blacks became less likely, and Hispanics and Asians became more likely, to live in neighborhoods in which their group predominated. In 2000, about equal proportions of whites, blacks, and Hispanics (41–42 percent) lived in predominantly white, black, and other race communities, respectively.

  • Fewer than half of the country's multiethnic and mixed white-and-black neighborhoods retained the same racial/ethnic mix in 2000 that they had in 1990. By contrast, neighborhoods in which Hispanics and/or Asians predominated, and neighborhoods in which those groups mixed with blacks, maintained their character over the decade.

  • Neighborhoods that changed from homogeneous to mixed-race were often suburban, but patterns varied widely among metro areas. In Washington, neighborhoods with a mix of blacks and Hispanics/Asians grew rapidly in once-predominantly black suburbs. In Chicago, formerly white communities in the central city and older suburbs attracted significant numbers of non-black minorities.

The emergence of more mixed-race communities, especially those with growing Hispanic and Asian populations, calls out for examining how policy might foster racial and ethnic integration, and encourage positive social outcomes in an increasingly diverse society.