William H. Frey photo

White and Black "Flight" from High Immigration Metro Areas: Evidence from the 1990 Census

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H. "White and Black "Flight" from High Immigration Metro Areas: Evidence from the 1990 Census." PSC Research Report No. 94-319. 9 1994.

This paper analyzes 1990 census migration data for U.S. metropolitan areas. Its tables provide detailed statistics on immigration and internal migration components of 1985-90 population change for individual metropolitan areas, cross tabulated for whites and blacks by poverty status, educational attainment, and age.

The analysis compares white and black internal migration patterns across the nations largest metropolitan areas, with an eye toward detecting similarities in their responses to immigration from abroad. Recent studies have shown that metropolitan areas which are most heavily impacted by immigration flows are witnessing accelerated out-migration flight of internal migrants to other parts of the country where fewer immigrants reside. Earlier studies have shown that this immigration-influenced flight is unique in both its socio-demographic selectivity, and spatial pattern. However, they have not examined the flight responses of blacks to the new immigration, or compared them with those of whites.

The paper addresses the following questions: (1) Has recent immigration exerted a similar internal migration response for blacks as it has for whites, in terms of its magnitude and socio- demographic selectivity? and (2) Are the spatial patterns of immigration-influenced black out- migration similar to those for whites? The answers to these questions provide insights into the degree to which blacks and whites respond in similar ways to the influx of relatively low- skilled, less well-off immigrant waves. It also suggests what a continuation of these selective immigrant-internal migration processes imply for the race and skill-level profiles of High Immigration metropolitan areas.

The results show some consistency in the flight responses of blacks and whites to recent immigration from abroad. While the magnitude of response to immigration is stronger for whites than it is for blacks, the socio-demographic selectivity patterns are quite similar. It is the least-educated and well-off segments of both populations that are prone to move away from High Immigration metro areas. Also, as with whites, the immigration-influenced internal migration of blacks takes a different spatial pattern than more conventional black long-distance migration.

Data used: 1990 U.S. Census tabulations of full migration (residence 5 years ago) sample.

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