The 1980s growth of the nation's minority populations -- especially Latinos and Asians -- have given rise to several multi- ethnic metropolitan areas which provide a unique context for intra- metropolitan race and ethnic segregation dynamics. This study examines 1990 residential segregation levels and 1980-90 changes in segregation for Latinos, Asians, and blacks in U.S. metropolitan areas. It also evaluates the effect of multi- ethnic metropolitan area context for these segregation patterns.
While black segregation levels still lie well above those for Latinos and Asians, there is some trend toward convergence over the decade. Over half (52%) of the areas increased their Latino segregation levels over the 1980s, and almost three-fourths (74%) increased their Asian segregation levels. In contrast, black segregation levels decreased in 88 percent of metropolitan areas.
Multi-ethnic metropolitan area context is shown to be important for internal segregation dynamics. Black segregation levels are lower and were more likely to decline in multi-ethnic metropolitan areas and when other minority groups grew faster than blacks. Latino segregation was also more likely to decline in such areas, and both Latino and Asian segregation declines were greater when other minority groups were growing. These findings point up the potential for greater mixed race, and ethnic co-residence in the neighborhoods of multi-ethnic metropolitan areas. They also suggest that the historic black-white neighborhood transition dynamic, still evident in many northern industrial metropolises, does not apply in these areas.