A growing number of “majority-Asian suburbs”

Here is a look at “majority-Asian suburbs“:

In 2000, researchers discovered that 52 percent of immigrants in metropolitan areas were living in suburbs. One facet of this transformation has attracted less scrutiny: over the last quarter century, hundreds of thousands of Asian migrants have arrived in the suburbs.

The best place to witness this rapid transformation is in the suburbs east of central Los Angeles, an area known as the San Gabriel Valley. In 1980, few would have imagined that the region would today be a cluster of majority and near-majority Asian suburbs…

The rapid Asianization of suburbanization occurred alongside steady Latino migration. In some San Gabriel Valley suburbs, the new Asian arrivals lived alongside Latinos (both multi-generational and immigrants) and whites. In these “tri-ethnic” suburbs, demographic transitions were often marked by some tension. In other suburbs, the neighbors of the new Asian arrivals were mostly white. (More disturbingly, with a few major exceptions like Pasadena, black households typically made up less than 5 percent of households in these suburbs.)…

The uniqueness of this pattern of suburbanization cannot be overemphasized. In 2010, of the 29,514 geographic areas across the country defined as “places” by the United States Census Bureau – which typically correspond to recognized cities, towns, suburbs, and other, mostly unincorporated, areas – only 37, or 0.1 percent, were majority-Asian. If one considers places where the percentage of Asian households is 25 percent or higher, still only 183 places—0.6 percent of the total—meet the cutoffAll 183 places are in about a dozen states, most of which contain only a handful of them, and the vast majority are small places with fewer than 10,000 households. California is the enormous exception: the state alone has almost forty places with more than 10,000 households and an Asian household percentage of at least 25 percent. Hawaii, the only other state with multiple places meeting these criteria, has just five.

This is a good introduction to the topic but if you want more detail, check out the academic literature on ethnoburbs as people have been tracking this phenomenon since at least the late 1990s. Wei Lei has a book titled Ethnoburb: The New American Community that is quite interesting and takes a closer look at a number of these majority-Asian suburbs outside Los Angeles.

A reminder: the suburbs have become increasingly non-white in recent decades.

Wells Fargo pays more than $175 million to settle case of steering minorities to worse mortgages

This is part of what discrimination looks like today: Wells Fargo has just agreed to a big settlement for offering minorities worse terms on mortgages.

At least 34,000 African-American, Hispanic and other minority borrowers paid more for their mortgages or were steered into subprime loans when they could have qualified for better rates, according to the Department of Justice. The DOJ settled a fair-lending lawsuit with Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, on Thursday…

The complaint also says that between 2004 and 2008, “highly qualified prime retail and wholesale applicants for Wells Fargo residential mortgage loans were more than four times as likely to receive a subprime loan if they were African-American and more than three times as likely if they were Hispanic than if they were white.”

During the same period, the complaint says, “borrowers with less favorable credit qualifications were more likely to receive prime loans if they were white than borrowers who were African-American or Hispanic.”

Wells will pay at least $175 million to settle the case; it denies any wrongdoing in settling. Bank of America agreed to pay $335 million in settling similar charges in December.

This is not unusual: audit studies have shown that minorities tend to have more difficulty renting, securing a car loan, getting a job, and getting mortgages compared to whites.

Even though I have looked at several news reports on this, here is what I really want to know: is this a large enough settlement for Wells Fargo to really care? In other words, is this a light fine or a heavy fine? And perhaps more importantly, how do we know that they and other banks won’t pursue similar tactics in the future?

Chicago helped lead the way in northern residential segregation

A blog post from Chicago magazine tells part of the story of how Chicago helped lead the way for northern segregation:

In his new book Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities, Carl H. Nightingale traces the phenomenon back to Sumer, but narrows down to a focus on Johannesburg and Chicago. In the former, segregation was explicit. In the latter, it couldn’t be; in 1917, the NAACP challenged a segregation ordinance in Louisville, leading to the decision in Buchanan v. Warley, in which “a multiracial team of attorneys led by a black professional had forced a white supremacist judiciary to choose between racism and a basic premise of laissez-faire capitalism—and property rights won out, at least in the case of neighborhood segregation.” But there was profit to be had in racism, and it would soon find ways around “laissez-faire capitalism,” with curious allies in the Progressive movement.

About a decade before Buchanan, the National Association of Real Estate Boards grew out of the Chicago Real Estate Board; it would coin the term realtor, and set professional standards for the sale of real estate (now the National Association of Realtors, it remains one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country). In the 1920s, its general counsel was Nathan William MacChesney, a former president of the Illinois Bar and a co-founder of Northwestern’s Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. MacChesney was considered a progressive; in the words of David Roediger, “the principal figure in the ‘progressive’ reform of real estate.”

The NAREB, and MacChesney, had a powerful progressive ally in Richard T. Ely, then an economist at the University of Wisconsin; in the mid-’20s, he moved to Northwestern. Ely, a proponent of the Social Gospel, had ties to Chicago progressives—he was the first president of the American Association of Labor Legislation, a “useful synechodoche for progressive economics,” which had Jane Addams on its board.

But Ely and MacChesney also represented troubling strains in the Progressive movement, as Nightingale writes:

Though neither elaborated a full-fledged theory of race in print, both had swum in a similar soup of racialized and imperialist reform politics for most of their careers…. several times [Ely] advocated measures to slow down the reproduction of people he deemed part of the “sad human rubbish-heap”—the “feeble-minded,” welfare recipients, and criminals…. MacChesney, whose list of board memberships in reform organizations was legendary, likewise wrote a eugenical tract advocating sterilization programs for the mentally ill and for prisoners…

The Great Migration continued to increase Chicago’s black population, but the city now had a powerful tool to control it. By 1940, according to historian Beryl Satter, Chicago had more racial-deed restrictions than any other city in the country; half the city was covered by such covenants. Nor was it limited to Chicago, Satter writes: “Real estate boards across the nation recognized CREB’s pioneering work in maintaining all-white communities and looked to CREB for advice as they crafted their own racially restrictive plans.” The fear that Johnson—himself a child of the Great Migration—and his colleagues had warned about in 1922 came to fruition, encoded into law.

Chicago is a global city but also has a checkered past. I don’t think many Chicagoans today would like the comparison to Johannesburg.

This history should be familiar to those who know America’s past: real estate interests and others, including the federal and local governments, developed a system of racially-restrictive covenants, discriminatory mortgage lending practices, and other practices like blockbusting in order to limit where blacks and other minorities could live. When these techniques were struck down and fair housing laws became common by the late 1960s, whites responded by leaving many urban neighborhoods and moving to the suburbs.

Nearly half of American whites feel that discrimination against whites is similar to discrimination against minorities

Survey data from last year suggest that nearly 50% of whites feel that whites are discriminated against at similar rates to minorities:

Nearly half (46 percent) of Americans agree that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities. A slim majority (51 percent) disagree.

  • A slim majority of whites agree that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against minority groups, compared to only about 3-in-10 blacks and Hispanics who agree.
  • Approximately 6-in-10 Republicans and those identifying with the Tea Party agree that discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against minority groups.
  • Nearly 7-in-10 Americans who say they most trust Fox News say that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities. In stark contrast, less than 1-in-4 Americans who most trust public television for their news agree.

So what media you watch the most or political groups you identify with colors your perceptions of what racial groups suffer discrimination? Considering this, I wonder if most American whites could describe a situation where they have personally suffered racial discrimination or whether these data reflect larger perceptions about American society (“people out there are against us/taking our jobs/working the system”). I wish there were some follow-up questions here…

There is also some interesting data here on opinions of Muslims: Americans generally support religious freedom but aren’t as willing to extend this to Muslims.


Demographic change: more minority birth than whites

A number of news outlets reported last week on another marker of demographic change in America: there are now more minority babies born than white babies.

“This is an important landmark,” said Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau who is now a sociologist at Howard University. “This generation is growing up much more accustomed to diversity than its elders.”…

As a whole, the nation’s minority population continues to rise, following a higher-than-expected Hispanic count in the 2010 census. Minorities increased 1.9 percent to 114.1 million, or 36.6 percent of the total U.S. population, lifted by prior waves of immigration that brought in young families and boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years…

Minorities made up roughly 2.02 million, or 50.4 percent of U.S. births in the 12-month period ending July 2011. That compares with 37 percent in 1990…

Births actually have been declining for both whites and minorities as many women postponed having children during the economic slump. But the drop since 2008 has been larger for whites, who have a median age of 42. The number of white births fell by 11.4 percent, compared with 3.2 percent for minorities, according to Kenneth Johnson, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire.

I think the last paragraph above is particularly interesting. The story isn’t just that there is a large minority and immigrant population that is having lots of children. Rather, whites and minorities are having fewer children but whites particularly have chosen to have fewer children. How much is this tied to more American living alone?

Of course, it will take some time for all of this to move through the generations. For example, it will be roughly two decades before you have more minorities than whites turning 18 and exercising this at the polls.

Differences in who blogs by race and education

A new sociological study shows that who blogs is affected by both race and education:

While African Americans as a whole are less likely to afford laptops and personal computers, Internet-savvy blacks, on average, blog one and a half times to nearly twice as much as whites, while Hispanics blog at the same rate as whites, according to a study published in the March online issue of the journal, Information, Communication & Society.

“Blacks consume less online content, but once online, are more likely to produce it,” said the study’s author, Jen Schradie, a doctoral candidate in sociology at UC Berkeley and a researcher at the campus’s Berkeley Center for New Media.

Schradie analyzed data from more than 40,000 Americans surveyed between 2002 and 2008 for the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which tracks Internet use and social media trends. Her latest findings follow up on a 2011 study in which Schradie found a “digital divide” among online content producers based on education and socio-economic status…

But, she said, “While blacks are more likely to blog than whites, it doesn’t mean the digital divide is over. People with more income and education are still more likely to blog than those with just a high school education and Internet access.”

There is not a whole lot of public discussion about this “digital divide” but it is interesting to see how this plays out with blogs. Of course, blogs are just one part of the content of the Internet and are a form that generally lends itself to longer pieces of writing (say compared to Twitter, Facebook, comment sections, discussion boards). In general, how involved are minorities in other forms of web content?

I wonder if the link between blogging and education is tied to the idea that more educated Internet users feel like they have something to say and contribute. Or perhaps education leads people to think that they should have a voice. For example, if you think about Annette Lareau’s theories about two types of parenting, “concerted cultivation” leads to adults who are assertive and comfortable in conversing with others.

“Black flight” to Charles County, Maryland?

Charles County, a suburban county south of Washington D.C. has experienced population growth in recent years, possibly as the result of “black flight”:

From 2000 to 2010, Charles County’s population rose by 21.6 percent, going from 120,546 to 146,551, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. At the same time, non-Hispanic whites dropped as a proportion of the county’s total population from 67.3 percent to 48.4 percent.

In a decade, the county went from being whiter than the state of Maryland to being a minority-majority jurisdiction.

“You think about the notion of white flight, there’s also the notion of black flight, or Latino flight,” said Kris Marsh, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland who specializes in the study of the black middle class.

“As Prince George’s County moves from a white-dominated county to a black-dominated county, there could be some black households that decide that they don’t want to live in a black-dominated community, so they move out to Howard County … or out to Charles County,” Marsh explained.

“White flight” is a well-known phenomenon that covers the movement of whites away from growing minority populations, particularly in large cities or denser suburbs. I’ve never heard the term “black flight” before though conversation about the movement of the black middle class has generated academic discussion for several decades now. It would be interesting to know how the communities in Charles County, and in some of the other nearby counties which are also mentioned in this story, are adjusting to new populations in areas that still have relatively few people.

Overall, this is a reminder that minority and immigrant populations are growing in suburban areas even though many still think of the suburbs as homogenous white, middle- to upper-class areas.