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America’s Smaller Cities Are Becoming More Diverse

The U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse outside of its traditional "melting pot" urban centers, according to a new study from Brown University

Photo: OregonDOT

The U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse, according to a new study from Brown University. In around 15,000 cities, towns, suburbs and rural areas in the nation, majority whites are down from 93 percent in 1980 to 83 percent in 2010.

According to the Wall Street Journal, these bolstered diversity ratings are mostly due to an influx of Hispanic and Asian populations into areas beyond traditional “gateway cities” such as New York, San Francisco, Houston, Washington and Los Angeles. The nation’s melting pot effect is spreading beyond urban centers, and the Census Bureau projects that by 2042 whites will make up less than half of the nation’s population.

So how will U.S. diversity statistics look in the near future? Perhaps a bit like Vallejo, Calif., which currently ranks as the country’s most perfectly diverse city. The Brown University paper scores diversity by how evenly a location’s population is spread across non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians and an “other” category that includes Native Americans, Alaska Natives and people of mixed races. In Vallejo, the population includes 41 percent whites, 24 percent Hispanics, 15 percent Asians, 14 percent blacks and 6 percent other. The town scores a neat 89.3 on the diversity scale. Check out this chart from the Journal:

The four U.S. cities with the greatest changes in diversity from 1980 to 2010. Chart: Wall Street Journal

Though diversity is lessening the gap between the majority and minorities, neighborhoods still remain highly segregated according to race, especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Diversity of Ordinary Life 
20 Best Small Towns in America

 

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