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.
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Cohorts can consist of entities other than persons. Some research, for example, has focused on cohorts of organizations, tracing their growth, decline, and effectiveness over time (Carroll and Hannan 2000). Housing and neighborhood cohorts may also be defined based on year of construction or era of development (Guest 1973; Myers 1990).
This selection criterion excludes from 10,000 to 15,000 places per time point with populations below the 1,000-resident threshold in at least one census year. Compared to the members of our analytic sample, the excluded places have smaller populations, are disproportionately concentrated in non-metro areas (roughly two-thirds), and are more likely to be located in the Midwest but less likely in the Northeast.
The remaining fifth are known as census-designated places, or CDPs. Like incorporated places, they have a concentrated population and recognizable identity. What they lack is legal standing as a separate governmental jurisdiction. The Census Bureau delineates CDPs to facilitate the aggregation of demographic data for settled areas that fall outside municipal boundaries (for more details, see U.S. Census Bureau 1994).
Despite our preference for allowing place boundaries to vary over time, scholars often impose constant boundaries on non-governmental units such as metropolitan areas or census tracts in longitudinal research. To assess the degree of similarity between the variable- and constant-boundary approaches, we turn to a new series of Geolytics data products (for more information, go to http://www.geolytics.com/USCensus,Normalized-Data,Categories.asp). These products feature 1980, 1990, and 2000 census variables reconfigured to match 2010 boundaries for many types of census geographic units, including places. The results of our assessment are reported in the “Basic Patterns” section.
The less-than-perfect comparability is due to a modification of the census race question. Beginning in 2000, the Census Bureau allowed persons to self-identify with more than one race for the first time (Jones and Bullock 2012). The impact of this change on our sample has been to boost the non-Hispanic ‘other’ category from .9 % of the average place population in 1980 and 1990 to 2.3 % in 2000 and 2.8 % in 2010. While the local share of multi-race people varies, it exceeds 10 % in fewer than 60 places, most of which are in Hawaii. Potential consequences of an expanded ‘other’ category (including multi-race individuals) for diversity trends are considered in the “Basic Patterns” section.
We have replicated the trajectory analysis using one- and two-point differences in E to define the different types of diversity change. The main patterns in Table 2 remain the same, although fewer places experience declining diversity in every post-peak decade.
The place controls include population size (logged), metropolitan status, the ratio of mean minority family income to mean white family income, the percentage of renter-occupied housing units, and a dichotomous indicator of specialization in government, military, or higher education functions. All of these controls are measured in 1980 with census SF1 or SF3 data and have proven useful in previous studies that attempt to account for diversity variation across communities (Allen & Turner 1989; Farrell 2005; Hall & Lee 2010; Lee et al. 2012, 2014).
By “large enough” we mean a total population of at least 10,000 and a combined black and Hispanic population of at least 2,500 in either 1980 or 2010. The 32 places other than Hoboken and St. Augustine have a mean 1980 population of 1,836, and they gain an average of 427 white residents and lose an average of 79 black or Hispanic residents over the next three decades.
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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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Lee, B.A., Hughes, L.A. Bucking the Trend: Is Ethnoracial Diversity Declining in American Communities?. Popul Res Policy Rev 34, 113–139 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11113-014-9343-8