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Hispanic Population Growth and Black–White Inequality: Changing Demographics, Changing Social Positions?

Abstract

Social scientists assert that the growth and redistribution of the Hispanic population has altered local racial and economic dynamics in the United States. Yet, comparably little work tests this perspective. We develop hypotheses based on two key sets of theories—the shifting racial/ethnic color line and (im)migrant incorporation into labor markets—to guide our analysis of the relationship between changing Hispanic population concentration and changes in black–white economic inequality. Our first-differenced analysis draws on county-level data from the 1990 and 2000 decennial Census, the US Department of Agriculture, and CQ Press Voting and Elections Collection. In addition to assessing black–white disparities in income, poverty, and unemployment, we test whether the relationship of interest is more or less pronounced in new destinations. When shifts in Hispanic concentration are associated with changes in black and white economic outcomes, we find improved outcomes for blacks (e.g., lower unemployment and poverty rates) but modestly diminished outcomes for whites. There is some evidence that these patterns result in declining black–white inequality in both new and established destinations; however, the declines are small and exclusive to unemployment and poverty outcomes. Results ultimately suggest limited structural changes as they relate to black–white economic inequality during this period.

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Notes

  1. The CQ Press Voting and Elections Collection data were accessed here: http://library.cqpress.com/elections/. Rural–Urban continuum codes were retrieved from here: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/rural–urban-continuum-codes/.

  2. Broomfield, CO—a city located in Boulder County, CO in 1990 – became a separate county in 1998; Yellowstone National Park, MT was reported separately in 1990 but was combined with Gallatin County, MT in 1997; and Takoma Park city, MD was previously part of Prince George County, MD but was associated with Montgomery County, MD in 2000.

  3. We adjust median income in 1990 to reflect 2000 dollars.

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Acknowledgements

The second author is a recipient of the 2018 Career Enhancement Fellowship and would like to acknowledge the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

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Correspondence to Heather A. O’Connell.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 3.

Table 3 Hispanic concentration coefficient estimates from first-differenced models for median income with interactions with destination type, 1990–2000

Appendix 2

See Table 4.

Table 4 Hispanic concentration coefficient estimates from first-differenced models for unemployment with interactions with destination type, 1990–2000

Appendix 3

See Table 5.

Table 5 Hispanic concentration coefficient estimates from first-differenced models for poverty with interactions with destination type, 1990–2000

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O’Connell, H.A., Diaz, C.J. Hispanic Population Growth and Black–White Inequality: Changing Demographics, Changing Social Positions?. Spat Demogr 8, 33–61 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40980-020-00059-2

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Keywords

  • Black–white inequality
  • Hispanics
  • Race/ethnicity
  • New destinations