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William H. Frey photo

Immigrant Concentration and Domestic Migrant Dispersal: Is Movement to Non-Metro Areas ''White Flight''?

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H., and Kao-Lee Liaw. "Immigrant Concentration and Domestic Migrant Dispersal: Is Movement to Non-Metro Areas ''White Flight''?" PSC Research Report No. 97-394. 6 1997.

The new "rural renaissance" appears to be largely a domestic migration phenomenon. As immigrants continue to concentrate into familiar port-of-entry areas, domestic migrants have begun to disperse to other parts of the country. This paper examines linkages between recent domestic out-migration from immigrant gateway metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan migration gains. A compilation of recent census estimates for the 1990-96 period show that the nationís ten high immigration metropolitan areas collectively lost 3.6 million domestic migrants over the first six years of the 1990ss, at the same time that non-metropolitan areas gained 1.5 million.

Our analyses of these data suggest that there is a "mirror image" of migration patterns between high immigration metro area losses and non-metropolitan area gains. This is especially evident in the West with the relationship between Los Angeles and San Francisco areas'í losses on the one hand, and the region'ís non-metropolitan gains on the other. While pre-elderly and elderly retirees comprise a large part of this movement, much of it is also "mainstream," involving the kinds of populations - whites with children, with at most high school educations, and with lower incomes - that often characterize suburban movement. This new more dispersed "flight" may improve the quality of life of these residents and reinvigorate rural communities. However, it will also serve to concentrate demographic diversity into those few metropolitan areas that still house the bulk of the nationís new immigrant and foreign-born populations.

Dataset(s): 1990 US Census special migration tabulations. 1990-96 US Census Bureau Postcensal estimates 1996 Current Population Survey.

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