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William H. Frey photo

Migration within the United States: Role of Race and Ethnicity

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H., and Kao-Lee Liaw. 2005. "Migration within the United States: Role of Race and Ethnicity." In Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs, 2005 edited by G. Burtless and J. Rothenberg Pack. The Brookings Institution Press.

Minority racial and ethnic groups, which account for an ever larger share of the U.S. population, are unevenly distributed across states. The concentration of Hispanic and Asian populations in New York, California, and a few other large states is related to their recent immigrant status and attachments to coethnic communities in those areas. Yet recent U.S. Census 2000 results suggest greater geographic dispersal for these two groups. The African American population, while less concentrated than these other race-ethnic groups, is demonstrating an increased tendency to locate in the South, countering a long-standing movement in the reverse direction. The prominence of race-ethnic minorities in the U.S. population and their changing distribution and dispersal patterns calls for explicit attention to their roles in internal migration models.

In this paper we address the role of race-ethnicity in two ways. First, we assess the role of what we call cultural constraints as they affect departures and destination choices for different race-ethnic groups. We also look at the impact that low-skilled immigration exerts on domestic out-migration from urbanized, high immigration states. While these issues are highlighted in our analysis, we also examine race-ethnic interactions with the standard labor market as well as climatic factors associated with interstate migrant departure and destination choice.

Country of focus: United States.

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