Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 113–139 | Cite as

Bucking the Trend: Is Ethnoracial Diversity Declining in American Communities?

  • Barrett A. LeeEmail author
  • Lauren A. Hughes


Although increasing diversity at the national scale is a well-documented trend, substantial variation in patterns of ethnoracial change occurs across American communities. Our research considers one theoretically implied path: that some communities are ‘bucking the trend,’ becoming more homogeneous over time. Using 1980 through 2010 decennial census data, we calculate panethnic (five-group) entropy index scores to measure the magnitude of diversity for nearly 11,000 census-defined places. Our results indicate that while certain places reach their diversity peak in 1980 or 1990, they are few in number. Moreover, they experience a variety of post-peak trajectories other than monotonic diversity decline. Decreasing diversity is concentrated in the South and West, among places with higher levels of diversity and larger proportions of Hispanic or black residents at the beginning of the study period. These places exhibit complex shifts in racial–ethnic structure, but Hispanic succession predominates.


Race Ethnicity Diversity Census places Entropy index 



Support for this research has been provided by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD074605, awarded to PI Barrett Lee) and by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (awarded to Lauren Hughes under grant DGE1255832). Additional support comes from the Population Research Institute of Penn State University, which receives infrastructure funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24HD041025). The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not reflect the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation. We thank Yosef Bodovski for valuable technical assistance and the journal editor and referees for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Population Research InstituteThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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