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William H. Frey photo

Changing Suburban Demographics: Beyond the "Black-White, City-Suburb" Typology

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H., and Douglas Geverdt. "Changing Suburban Demographics: Beyond the "Black-White, City-Suburb" Typology." PSC Research Report No. 98-422. July 1998.

The demographic dynamics of race and space has moved beyond the narrow focus on whites and blacks in a simple two-category "city-Suburb" dichotomy. A new paradigm for viewing minorities in the suburbs needs to take cognizance of two developments: First, the significant immigration of race and ethnic minorities from Latin America and Asia, who show a stronger tendency to locate in the suburbs than earlier-wave immigrants. Second, the emergence of an increased heterogeneity of community types within "the suburbs" including suburban employment centers, inner suburbs with housing and demographic attributes similar to central cities, and low density residential suburbs on the periphery.

To provide a general framework for how and where minorities will become a factor in suburban populations this research provides two perspectives. One of these is to emphasize the variations in population growth dynamics among the 39 largest metropolitan areas which shape the sizes and race-ethnic profiles of their suburban populations. We offer a classification which identifies metropolitan areas where minority suburbanization is most likely, and least likely to occur. We also compare detailed race-ethnic profiles of these metro areas' status, and language ability.

A second perspective focuses on making distinctions between different types of communities within "the suburbs" for purposes of evaluatinminority-suburban change. Suburban communities, within this territory, are playing disparate patterns of growth and decline, land use mixes, racial and ethnic transition patterns, and accompanying planning and governance issues which argue for a focus on intra-suburban race-space dynamics. We employ an extended suburban typology to examine these dynamics for a multi-ethnic metro area (Los Angeles), and two largely white-black metro areas with different growth dynamics (Atlanta and Detroit).

Dataset(s): 1980 and 1990 US decennial censuses. 1990-96 US Census Bureau Postcensal estimates. National Center for Education Statistics 1990 School District Data Book.

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