Urbanites Migrate to Exurbs and New Sunbelt

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Jun 19, 2002
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Census 2000 reveals that a second wave of one of the most significant demographic trends of the latter half of the 20th century, white migration, is occurring today to the outer suburbs and to expanding metropolitan areas in the New Sun Belt. Two leading demographers offer conflicting interpretations of the causes in the June issue of American Demographics.

William H. Frey, senior fellow at the Milken Institute, Santa Monica, Calif., and University of Michigan demographer who coined the term “new white flight” in American Demographics (April, 1994) now finds this dispersal accelerating to outer suburbs and, regionally, to the whiter New Sunbelt. Mr. Frey believes that this relocation, while not strictly a flight from immigrants or minorities, reflects, in part, the high cost of city living and a yearning for a suburban lifestyle. He believes the movement will supersede its postwar predecessor in creating a wider regional separation of the nation’s mostly suburban whites from its more urban minority populations.

Roderick J. Harrison, director of the DataBank at the Joint Center for Political
and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C., and associate professor of sociology
and anthropology at Howard University, agrees with Mr. Frey that white migration
is taking place and that it is primarily lifestyle-driven. However, he objects
to the use of the term “white flight” to describe this migration, arguing that
doing so dilutes our understanding of what white flight really is, and of the
white flight that actually is still occurring, probably on a reduced level,
today.

Moderator Comment: What is your analysis of the Census
2000 “white flight” data? What are the implications for retailers and CPG companies?

We are seeing greater diversity in the communities in
our little portion of New Jersey. This multicultural trend is our evidence that,
while there is still a ways to go, opportunities for minorities are greater
today than at any time before in U.S. history. Many of us raised in totally
white suburbs, after our parents fled the riots of the sixties, are thrilled
that our children (and we) are growing up in a diverse environment. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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