Rhode Island’s Diversity Explosion—See Where

Friday, February 27, 2015


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See Interactive Map Below



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RI is getting more diverse the younger it gets -- see just how much so BELOW.

Rhode Island's share of white residents is shrinking with each generation -- and an interactive data map produced by the Brookings Institution's Bill Frey shows by just how much - and where.  

In a breakdown by states' counties, Providence County's white population ages 65 and up for 2013 ranges from 84% to over 90% for residents over 80.  That number is just over 50% for Providence residents under the age of 20 -- and less than 50% for ages under four.  


Brookings' Frey, who recently wrote, Diversity Explosion: How New Demographics are Remaking America, spoke with GoLocal about the national, and regional shifts in ethic and racial compositions of populations, based on recent U.S. Census Data.  

"The country is undergoing important changes, and the older, middle aged white people of the country, they don't understand how quickly this is changing," said Frey.  "A lot of people are still stuck in the [nineteen] sixties, and they think diversity is blacks in the inner cities, and that's most certainly not the case."


National, Local Trends


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"Frey highlights the "bottom up" demographic change that is occurring in the United States as today's youth are considerably more racially diverse than previous predominantly white generations," writes Brookings in the book release.  "As a result of this demographic structure, the nation faces a "cultural generation gap." Yet these dynamics vary considerably from place to place. The following interactive feature illustrates this point by mapping the racial composition of different age groups at the county and metropolitan area scales."

Frey spoke to who is audience is based on his latest research, and was wide-reaching in his assessment. 

"It's for everybody," said Frey.  "It's meant to educate people about the demographic graph changes we're undergoing with respect to diversity, with racial groups growing rapidly, the experience we're going to undergo in the first half of this century will have as big an impact as the baby boom.  I want everyone to understand this - they think they know, but they don't understand the scope of the change."

Frey spoke to the data as evidence in his research, and elucidated in the interactive infographic map.  

"We're becoming more diverse from the younger ages up, especially in those places that used to be the big immigrant gateways, but we're also moving inwards," said Frey of the trends in the country.  "Very soon, if you're not living in a place with new minorities, then the black population is increasingly making its presence felt, especially in the south."


Providence is a Melting Pot


Regarding Providence, Frey assessed that is a "rapidly changing racial melting pot." 

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Brookings's Frey spoke to one national demographic trend -- blacks are moving south.

"New England of course has not been as diverse as other parts of the country, but the urban parts have been more so," said Frey.  "I lived in Providence for a while in the '70s, we had the white ethnics of course -- the Irish, the Italians.  There's been a history to being open to ethnic groups, not necessarily racial groups. That's changing with the big Hispanic inflow in Providence, and especially in the younger part of the demographic.  it's a rapidly changing racial melting pot."


Frey also spoke to another demographic shift in recent years -- blacks to the south.


"Historically, blacks have left the south, but starting around 1970, there's been a trickle back, and in the 1990s and the last 10-15 years, there's been a black migration to the south," said Frey.

"Their parents, or grandparents had moved to the north.  Now, when you see migration patterns, blacks are much more likely to choose a southern destination than whites are, and they're going to more prosperous parts of the south, and especially Atlanta, and it's relatively high black educational level," said Frey.  "Atlanta is attracting whites and Hispanics as well, but blacks are a huge part of the growth -- the old image of the south as a "black-white" region persists, irregardless of racial groups.  Georgia, North Carolina, and all of the south, the blacks are the largest minority, so as we're becoming more diverse as a country, different parts have different mixes, but the south will largely be a black-white culture."






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