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The New Geography of U.S. Population Shifts: Trends toward Balkanization

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H. "The New Geography of U.S. Population Shifts: Trends toward Balkanization." PSC Research Report No. 94-314. 6 1994.

Urban growth and migration patterns in America continue to shift in unexpected ways and are creating sharper divisions across space. This review of 1990 census findings emphasizes the following trends which emerged over the 1980s and are likely to charac terize the 1990s as well: First, there is a return to urbanization -- countering the redistribution reversals of the 1980s. Second, increased regional separation of minorities and whites has accompanied the heightened immigration from Latin America and Asia. Third, regional divisions by skill-level and poverty make the geography of opportunities is quite different for college graduates than for high school dropouts. Fourth, sharp age and cohort disparities, across space, are emerging -- especially be tween the elderly cohorts and the baby boomers. Finally, there is a growing disparity between middle class suburbanites and city minorities and poverty populations.

The portrait painted here is one of widening divisions. What is new with the trends of the 1980s and 1990s are redistribution patterns which reinforce divisions across broad regions and metropolitan areas. A demographic balkanization is a likely outcome if these trends continue. The large multi-ethnic port-of-entry metros will house decidedly younger, more diverse, and ethnically vibrant populations than the more staid, white older populations in declining regions, while the better educated middle-aged populations will reside in the most prosperous regions. The geographic boundaries that take shape according to these distinctions will surely bring profound changes to established economic and political alliances as well as to the lifestyles and attitud es of residents of these areas.

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