College Graduates Are Pushing Blacks Out of Cities

Austin. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andy
Austin. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andy

How do we make sense of the fact that America’s most progressive cities, the ones that cherish diversity, are losing African Americans? And that the most conservative places are doing the opposite?

Between 2000 and 2010, cities like Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco—places that vote majority Democrat, consider themselves socially and culturally progressive, and boast racial diversity—all lost unprecedented numbers of African Americans. San Francisco, for instance, saw a staggering 20.4 percent loss in its African American population between 2000 and 2010. Chicago and Washington D.C. also experienced double-digit losses.

During that same decade, the only three major cities (populations over 500,000) that voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election— Phoenix, Fort Worth, and Oklahoma City—all saw significant increases in African American numbers; their African-American populations grew by 36.1 percent, 28 percent and 11.4 percent respectively.

Rebecca Diamond, an economist at Stanford University, offers one salient explanation.

Her research points to how cities such as Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have over the past three decades attracted ever-larger numbers of college graduates. Using Census data, Diamond shows that as college graduates occupied larger shares of these cities’ work forces (while avoiding other cities they deem less attractive) income inequality in these cities grew.

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Source: Washington Post | Eric Tang