Cities in America and Britain more integrated

11 March 2016

The extent to which ethnic groups choose to live in more integrated neighbourhoods is on the rise. This according to a recent article in the Economist.

The article investigates the trends in various American cities as well as in London (Great Britain), and says that there have been definite changes since 1970 – a trend which has been growing even more since 1990.

Four reasons are cited, namely:

  • More and more non-white citizens choose to live in suburbs and commuter towns. And while these areas still have more whites than any other racial group, there is a definite growth in the latter. Research has shown that when people leave ‘racial enclaves’ behind and move to the suburbs, they put less store in living in an area that is racially exclusive. According to the article about 47% of Hispanics and 37% African Americans were living in suburbs in 1990. By 2010 the figures have grown to 59% for Hispanics and 51% African Americans. Since 2000 Chicago, which is traditionally a much divided city, has ‘lost’ about 140 000 black residents to surrounding towns and suburbs. And while some suburbs are populated by many Hispanics or blacks – or South Asians in Britain – the areas are more integrated than before.
  • Immigration also plays a role: as more immigrants arrive in traditional ethnic ‘enclaves’, those who have managed to find their feet in their new country move on to other areas. Research by Brown University in the USA shows that white people do not leave a neighbourhood when Asians and Hispanics start to move in. Also not once they are followed by black people.
  • The third reason is love. In London there are more children under the age of five of mixed white British and Caribbean decent than those of Caribbean decent only. The number of weddings between whites and Asians are also on the rise. In the USA the same holds true: a study shows that 31% of all weddings involving blacks in 2014, was with someone of a different race. For white Americans this figure is 19%. Because it is difficult to classify children born from ‘mixed’ marriages statistically as from a single race, in might even get more difficult in future to measure the actual rate of integration accurately
  • The fourth reason is less positive. Rising property prices force people to buy where they can afford and not necessarily where they would have chosen to live otherwise. According to the property group Savills first-time buyers in London need to put down approximately 120% of their annual income as a deposit. This compared to about 20-30% of one’s annual income in the 1980s.

Read the full article here.

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