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william frey

William H. Frey

Senior Fellow - Metropolitan Policy Program

William H. Frey, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, is an internationally regarded demographer, known for his research on urban populations, migration, immigration, race, aging, political demographics, and his expertise on the U.S. census. His latest book is Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America (Brookings Institution Press, 2018).

His current research agenda involves examining 2020 U.S. census practices and results, tracking voting trends associated with the 2020 presidential primary and general election, and monitoring demographic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frey’s demographic expertise also draws from his nearly four decades at the University of Michigan, where he is research professor with the university’s Institute for Social Research and Population Studies Center. He has authored over 200 publications and several books including Regional and Metropolitan Growth and Decline in the U.S. (Russell Sage, 1988, with Alden Speare, Jr.), America By the Numbers: A Field Guide to the U.S. Population (The New Press, 2001, with Bill Abresch and Jonathan Yeasting), and Social Atlas of the United States (Allyn and Bacon, 2008 with Amy Beth Anspach and John Paul DeWitt).

Frey has directed projects funded by the National Science Foundation, NICHD Center for Population Research, and several foundations. He has contributed to the 1995 President’s National Urban Policy Report, HUD’s State of the Cities 2000 report, the Russell Sage Foundation’s census project, and has authored numerous research reports, articles and op-eds on urban trends published by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. With Ruy Teixeira and Robert Griffin, he is co-director of the multiinstitutional States of Change project, which traces the history and projects future demographic scenarios of the U.S. electorate. He has been a consultant to the U.S. Census Bureau, and a contributing editor to American Demographics magazine. He has also been active in creating demographic media for use by educators, policy makers, and the general public (examples at frey-demographer.orgssdan.net; and CensusScope.org).

Frey received a Ph.D. in sociology from Brown University in 1974. He has been a visiting research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria); the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scholar at the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C., and the Hewlett Visiting Scholar at Child Trends in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Population Association of America, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, the American Sociological Association, and is a past fellow at the Urban Land Institute.

Frey is known for his ability to communicate demographic trends to general and policy audiences. His research has been written about in such diverse venues as The Economist, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, National Journal, The New Yorker, and Forbes. His commentary and observations have been featured on broadcast media, including NPR’s All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, NBC’s Nightly News, ABC’s World News, CBS’s Evening News, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, and print and online media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Axios.

William H. Frey, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, is an internationally regarded demographer, known for his research on urban populations, migration, immigration, race, aging, political demographics, and his expertise on the U.S. census. His latest book is Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America (Brookings Institution Press, 2018).

His current research agenda involves examining 2020 U.S. census practices and results, tracking voting trends associated with the 2020 presidential primary and general election, and monitoring demographic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frey’s demographic expertise also draws from his nearly four decades at the University of Michigan, where he is research professor with the university’s Institute for Social Research and Population Studies Center. He has authored over 200 publications and several books including Regional and Metropolitan Growth and Decline in the U.S. (Russell Sage, 1988, with Alden Speare, Jr.), America By the Numbers: A Field Guide to the U.S. Population (The New Press, 2001, with Bill Abresch and Jonathan Yeasting), and Social Atlas of the United States (Allyn and Bacon, 2008 with Amy Beth Anspach and John Paul DeWitt).

Frey has directed projects funded by the National Science Foundation, NICHD Center for Population Research, and several foundations. He has contributed to the 1995 President’s National Urban Policy Report, HUD’s State of the Cities 2000 report, the Russell Sage Foundation’s census project, and has authored numerous research reports, articles and op-eds on urban trends published by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. With Ruy Teixeira and Robert Griffin, he is co-director of the multiinstitutional States of Change project, which traces the history and projects future demographic scenarios of the U.S. electorate. He has been a consultant to the U.S. Census Bureau, and a contributing editor to American Demographics magazine. He has also been active in creating demographic media for use by educators, policy makers, and the general public (examples at frey-demographer.orgssdan.net; and CensusScope.org).

Frey received a Ph.D. in sociology from Brown University in 1974. He has been a visiting research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria); the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scholar at the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C., and the Hewlett Visiting Scholar at Child Trends in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Population Association of America, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, the American Sociological Association, and is a past fellow at the Urban Land Institute.

Frey is known for his ability to communicate demographic trends to general and policy audiences. His research has been written about in such diverse venues as The Economist, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, National Journal, The New Yorker, and Forbes. His commentary and observations have been featured on broadcast media, including NPR’s All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, NBC’s Nightly News, ABC’s World News, CBS’s Evening News, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, and print and online media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Axios.

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