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William H. Frey photo

Immigration, Internal Out-Movement, and Demographic Balkanization in America: New Evidence for the 1990s

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H. "Immigration, Internal Out-Movement, and Demographic Balkanization in America: New Evidence for the 1990s." PSC Research Report No. 96-364. 4 1996.

The intense scrutiny given to post-1965 immigration has focused primarily on its near-term economic consequences for native-born workers, taxpayers, and government programs. These debates have largely overlooked an equally important long-term consequence for the nation: the sharper social and demographic division that current immigration is creating across the national geographic landscape. This report presents evidence for the 1990-95 period which confirms a continuation of separate immigration and domestic migration patterns that portend a "demographic balkanization" of the United States, across broad regions and metropolitan areas. The patterns consist of (1) highly focused state and metropolitan area destinations of immigrants, (2) much different migration patterns among domestric migrants, and (3) an apparent "immigrant push" of domestic out-migrants away from high immigration areas.

The study also identifies ten high immigration metropolitan areas, which attracted over two-thirds of all U.S. immigrant growth over both the 1985-90 and 1990-95 periods. They are home to more than 60 percent of all foreign-born residents but less than 25 percent of total U.S. residents. Nine of the ten have lost domestic migrants for part or all of the 1985-95 decade. A separate set of metropolitan areas have grown primarily from domestic migration over the 1985-90 and 1990-95 periods. Domestic migrants are also dominating the 1990-95 growth in smaller metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. (Immigration and net internal migration components of all states and metropolitan areas for 1985-90 and 1990-95, compiled by the author, are listed in the appendix tables of this report.)

A 1995 statistical portrait and projections to the year 2020 illustrate the impending "balkanization" scenario. The ten high immigration areas are already distinct in their multicultural profile and in their highly bifurcated race-class structure. The remainder of the country is becoming divided into largely black-white areas in the South Atlantic region, which are growing via internal migration, and older, whiter, more stagnant areas scattered elsewhere. These distinctions will become sharp if current immigration and domestic migration patterns continue.

Dataset(s): Census: U.S., 1990 (special migration tabulations). 1990-95 U.S. Census Burea Postcensal estimates. Current Population Surveys: U.S., 1991-1994. Internal Revenue Service Migration Data: U.S., 1992-93, 1993-94.

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