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On the Legal Round of Redistricting …

November 29, 2011 2011 Redistricting 5 Comments

I’m opting to leave the field to Michael Li on the bulk of this topic since he’s doing some ace coverage of redistricting as it goes through the courts. But there’s one point I’ll make for the time being that I think may bear some attention during all of this.

First things first, some backgorund reading. I think if you only want/need/are forced to read only one legal document on redistricting this year, it should be the San Antonio court’s explanation of how they came about their State House map: http://tinyurl.com/dysdbka.

What’s of particular interest to me in that document is how they treat minority coalition districts. Those type of districts have been falling out of legal favor as increasingly Republican judiciaries have chipped away at different aspects of the Voting Rights Act. As Michael Li offers in a backgrounder:

This issue lies perhaps at the crux of the dispute about whether more minority opportunity districts must be created under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

In Bartlett v. Strickland, the Supreme Court held that additional minority opportunity districts do not need to be created under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act until a minority group’s voting age population in a given region passes 50%. However, the Strickland case involved an area of the country (North Carolina) where at the time Anglos and African-Americans were the only two major ethnic groups. What the case left undecided is whether in a tri-ethnic society like Texas, African-Americans and Hispanics can be aggregated for purposes of the 50% threshold.

The plaintiffs contend that Fifth Circuit case law clearly allows such aggregation where, as they argue is the case in Texas, the two minority groups vote cohesively, at least in general elections.

The state argues that such coalition districts are merely a variant of the Anglo majority ‘minority influence districts’ it contends have been disfavored by courts and would inject politics into the redistricting process.

As the San Antonio court describes the State House map, however, they take issue with the word “create.” They do, however, leave intact districts such as HD149 and HD26 which were both points of dispute and where each district had been either re-sliced or fully eliminated in a manner that reduced the ability of minorities to have an impact on the outcome of the election. In each of those two particular districts, the demographic dynamics are either three or four distinct minority groups and each of the districts were drawn to be electorally competitive. HD54 in Killeen is similar in that it was drawn in a way that it is electorally competitive and there are essentially three demographic groups at work within that district.

The explanation offered by the court is that it did not “create” these districts. Instead, they explain, they looked at the 2001 version of the map (drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislative Redistricting Board), the 2011 legislatively passed map, and sought to repair the dispute by making those districts more compact and drawn in a way that did not undo their present minority coalition status. That’s not quite the same as “create”, but it’s a point that will be interesting to see how the Republican-controlled US Supreme Court handles that question.

The reason I think this has potential for something big is this: the Texas Attorney General is essentially crying foul whenever there is an unfavorable district that happens to be under 50% Anglo. The Voting Rights Act doesn’t necessarily require a minority district to be 50% African-American or Hispanic, but the reality is that African-American politicians are getting increasingly nervous as they see their districts have a higher total population of Hispanics despite their district still having a CVAP population that is close to 50% African-American. Hispanic districts are the toughest nut of them all, with citizenship leading to very different needs in how Hispanic districts in Dallas and Houston are composed, versus those in San Antonio or South Texas.

But the takeaway from all of this – to me, at least – is that we now live in a world where at least more and more urban areas are becoming increasingly integrated in terms of demographics. That leads us to a relatively new phenomenon. While there still exist concentrated clusters of individual demographic groups, we are seeing a critical mass develop where more multicultural areas are seen down to the Census block level. A case in point from southwest Harris County:

That’s the same standard color scheme used for all of the other demographic majority maps: red is majority Anglo; black is majority African-American; orange is majority Hispanic; green is majority Asian; and yellow is where there is no majority at all.

If the view in creating politically-driven districts is that you have to have 50% of something, then there’s an increasing amount of the world where we live in that this view ignores. What do you draw in Alief? What do you draw in Sharpstown? What do you draw in Sugar Land? What do you draw in Mission Bend?

To be sure, that’s not to suggest that the majority of America is like that now. Nor do I expect it to be over the course of this decade. But the phenomenon is seen in more and more locations where you have three or four distinct demographic groups defining a community of interest.

I’m not naive enough to think that this particular Supreme Court will go so far as to outline a protected status for minority-coalition areas such as these. But the San Antonio court’s logic offers an interesting possibility of how they may be able to defend themselves from the more partisan cross-currents that insist on these areas being drawn majority-something. It’s likely a smarter bet that the Supreme Court may strike down Section 5 (if not the VRA in its entirety) at some point this decade and leave everything up for partisan spoils. But even if it comes to that, I don’t see the issue of voting rights being legislated in some variety going away entirely.

All of this, of course, reminds me to get back on track mapping out the rest of the county down to the block level and maybe even get around to adding Fort Bend to the mix of that task. In the meantime, happy reading of the San Antonio court’s explanation. Here’s a sampling if you still need any convincing …

The dissent also wrongly alleges that the interim map “creates” coalition districts that are not required by the Voting Rights Act. Once again, the dissent misstates the Court’s approach to drawing the interim map. This Court has not made any merits determinations as to whether coalition districts are required under the Voting Rights Act. Rather, like the minority opportunity districts discussed above, when these districts were restored to their baseline configuration and population shifts were taken into account, these districts resulted quite naturally.

For example, House District 26, situated in Fort Bend County to the southwest of Houston, increased from 44 percent minority population to 60.6 percent minority in 2010. The image below shows that the enacted plan substantially reconfigured HD26 in a way that made it irregularly shaped. Evidence presented at trial indicates that this reconfiguration may have been an attempt by the State to intentionally dismantle an emerging minority district. As the images below demonstrate, the interim plan attempts to take this district back to its original configuration in the benchmark while making slight adjustments for population changes.

The dissent’s incorporation of the State’s bizarrely shaped House District 26, despite alleged constitutional violations, constitutes an improper merits determination regarding the validity of that claim. In contrast, the Court’s decision to return the challenged district to its original configuration is simply a method of preserving the status quo until the D.C. Court has made a preclearance determination.

Increasingly Improving Almanac Update

October 30, 2011 Almanac Updates No Comments

An update of sorts on the Almanac project …

- Unless I’ve gone totally bleary-eyed in the midst of updating wiki pages and/or just flat-out missed a few, I believe all 150 State Rep districts now have updated election results from 2002 to 2010. I owe it to myself to do a full run-through to check for gaps. But I believe the entire thing should now have every election district (Congress, SBOE, Senate, House) done similarly. Take it from me, running through 150 State Rep districts on my own is a chore. Time to look into getting an intern. If you happen to spot a page missing any election data, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll be far beyond happy to know that they’re all completed.

And just in time to change the districts and load up 2008 and 2010 data for each of those.

- About those new maps: it looks like DOJ is prodding the San Antonio court to not use the State’s maps as part of any interim redistricting plans. Can’t wait to see how this all ends up.

- Aside from a couple of minor, stylistic changes, like making the SBOE election data for 2002 to 2008 consistent with how I do all the other election return tables, I’m hoping to get some district writeups added to the whole thing. I’m not about to think that I can do 232 district profiles in a timely manner during my free time. But I do hope to cover the Houston area fully and as many competitive districts or districts with high-profile electeds as much as possible. A decent go-by example is the work done for CD29 (and a few other CDs). Those were written prior to the 2010 election, so there’s some updating to be done to account for changes in that election (such as this). As always, if you care to contribute, feel free to register and start writing.

- As part of this aspect, I’m in full scavenger mode for any old Almanac of American Politics since the district profiles there are pretty much what I’ve grown up reading. Ideally, if anyone has a spare copy of issues that predate 2002, I’d love to borrow them. Anything after that is too much of a chore to read as Barone’s recent turn toward ideological cheerleader adds too much laughter and eyerolling to endure for meaningful study. Optimally, anything from the 80s and 90s is good. I’m already turning my place upside down for my ’86 and ’88 copies to no avail. Next time I ditch bookshelves for putting the library in storage boxes, I truly need an intervention.

- With a little luck, I’ll also be able to get around to the Top 15 or 20 county profiles. The pre-2010 version of Harris County is a good place to start. There’s enough demographic data that I’ve been spilling onto the blog that also needs to find a home in the Almanac.

The Global Neighborhood Next Door

October 30, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» Washington Post: The new U.S. neighborhood defined by diversity as all-white enclaves vanish

Stop me if you’ve heard this before …

John Logan, a sociologist at Brown University who coined the phrase “global neighborhoods” to describe the changes he has been studying for three decades, said the typical pattern is for Asians and Hispanics to move into white neighborhoods, paving the way for white acceptance of more blacks.

“It’s a pathway that eventually could lead to a much higher level of integration” in many parts of the country, Logan said. “There’s some self-selection. The kinds of people who don’t create barriers for Hispanics and Asians to move in as neighbors may be the kind who don’t move when African Americans move in. But the numbers are so large, it’s not like they’re unusual white Americans. They’re becoming the norm.”

“As whites are a smaller share of the population, inevitably what it means is whites are more and more going to share communities with other groups,” Logan said. “The all-white neighborhood is being re-created on the far periphery of metropolitan areas. But aside from that, it’s becoming a thing of the past.”

The article is part of the Post’s two-parter in the DC area’s instances of population integration and the segregation that remains. It’s all great reading if you’ve been following along with any interest in the blogging I’ve done on the topic.

The Post even does their own version of demographic mapping, showing pluralities by Census Tract and block group. You can search by zip code or city to get your own preferred view. I think it offers some great added insight to the demographic majority mapping that I’ve done here.

From a research tangent, I should also note that John Logan is a great source of some useful historical information. I used the data and GIS info from his MapUSA project to build the 1980 and 1990 views of the Census in my demographic majority maps.

Among the relatively unique factors that I see as differences between Harris County and a number of locations elsewhere is that it the Houston area has, at minimum, three substantial demographics. And if you focus on certain areas in the county and particularly if you include Fort Bend in the equation, that turns to four substantially-size critical masses of different demographic groups. I think you can look to a number of major urban areas for examples of three demographic groups driving this kind of change (I got around to mapping out Cook County, IL here). But so far, only the Los Angeles/Orange area of California strikes me as a better example that parallels the Houston area.

In several areas that I’ve gotten around to mapping in detail, I’m either seeing two demographic groups driving change or where any number of other demographic groups are still relatively small. Denver is one such case that I’ve blogged about.

Whatever you take away from all of that, I heartily recommend reading both parts of the Post’s overview. One point that I’ll use to transition to a focus on Houston’s southwest side in the week ahead is that the extent to which we see the level of integration reported by the Post, celebrated here and elsewhere … it doesn’t negate the reality that population concentrations still remain – either to the extent that the Post’s second part covers in African-American areas, or even in less-concentrated areas such as any number of Houston’s Hispanic or Asian population clusters. That’s certainly a dead horse I’ve been beating as redistricting professionals use integration as an excuse for creating better-performing Hispanic or Asian districts.

It may very well be that the level of integration that we see continues and makes the next decade or two much more problematic in defining communities of interest that help in shaping political districts. There are certainly some areas that are more of a challenge than others right now. But so far, the trend has been used more as an excuse than a fact.

As luck would have it, I did run a few maps of the Maryland suburbs around DC in order to get some context for this post on Langley Park’s Hispanic population. I only managed to do a CVAP map, so it doesn’t show the fullness of the multicultural area that still comes through in the more difficult CVAP filter. Just to help add a little better context, here are the counts and shares within the Multicultural areas shown in the map below. It’s not quite as strong of a 3-way demographic tug-of-war, but I believe the more expansive Total Population view should show higher levels of Hispanic population, and hence, more of the 3-way shift that you sense from reading the first part of the Post’s series. You can also see that the share of the county residing in an area with no demographic majority is quite different in each county.

Montgomery County Multicultural: (21% of CVAP)
Anglo: 49,050 (40.0%)
Hispanic: 15,385 (12.5%)
Afram: 34,620 (28.2%)
Asian: 21,029 (17.1%)

Prince George’s County Multicultural: (8% of CVAP)
Anglo: 15,215 (36.9%)
Hispanic: 4,545 (11.0%)
Afram: 17,530 (42.5%)
Asian: 2,944 (7.1%)

red = Anglo majority; black = Afr-Am majority; brown = Hispanic majority; yellow = no majority

Chart of the Day: From Citizenship to Voting

The Asian American Justice Center releases an update of their big profile of the Asian population. This chart showing the disparity of voting-eligibility and voting practice is a pretty useful snapshot for understanding how electorates come to look so different from the populations that elected officials have to represent.

If and whenever time permits, I’ll have to add creating a Texas version of this and a Harris County version of this to my to-do list. Among the differences is that I’d expect to see lower gray bars for Hispanic and possibly Asian. There are a number of indicators that suggest that Texas has more of a GOTV problem than a Voter Reg problem compared to other states.

Addendum from an 80-20 PAC Presentation

October 23, 2011 Politics-2011 No Comments

To those of you who might have witnessed a presentation given at the Houston 80-20 PAC dinner Sunday night, the links below should help send you deeper down the rabbit hole of maps and demographics. It’s always a pleasure to hang with one of my favorite local political groups and the interest in demographics by several of the folks at 80-20 events is always a relief. Enjoy the further reading and if there are other areas of interest that you’d like me to look into, I’m usually game for learning a little more about my favorite part of the world.

- This post on Asian population by Houston-area neighborhood is the basis for the neighborhood-by-neighborhood number crunching. For some further reading on how Alief’s population (Asian and otherwise) is expected to change over the years, this may be some interesting reading. For some further reading on a part of the state that ranks 5th in terms of Asian population share, here’s an intro to Moore County, which is north of Amarillo.

- The big spaghetti-mess of an image that I talked about is the one below (click to enlarge). Its a block-level view of the maps done here (and the interactive/comparison views here) at the block group level. This update just takes things to a more granular level and reveals some interesting differences in southwest Houston and Alief from other parts of the county. I’ll talk about this more tomorrow in a separate blog post. For now … enjoy the sneak peak.

The color-coding is as follows: red represents an Anglo majority within the block; brown, a Hispanic majority; black, an African-American majority; green, an Asian majority; and yellow means that there is no majority. I’ve made a few tweaks to the code that generates this, so a few quirks are being ironed out and I may have something for more interactive viewing tomorrow.

- It occurs to me that I never bothered to break out the full Asian nationality breakdown here on the blog, so here’s that:

Harris County

Total Asian Population - 256,862
Vietnamese      87,693  (34.1%)
Indian          48,184  (18.8%)
Chinese         42,244  (16.4%)
Filipino        17,045  ( 6.6%)
Pakistani       16,821  ( 6.5%)
Korean          12,829  ( 5.0%)
Cambodian        4,118  ( 1.6%)
Japanese         4,022  ( 1.6%)
Taiwanese        3,715  ( 1.4%)
Bangladeshi      3,038  ( 1.2%)
Thai             2,865  ( 1.1%)
Laotian          1,846  ( 0.7%)
Indonesian         597  ( 0.2%)
Malaysian          587  ( 0.2%)
Sri Lankan         500  ( 0.2%)
Other Asian     10,758  ( 4.2%)

Fort Bend County

Total Asian Population - 101,213
Indian          37,318 (36.9%)
Chinese         22,481 (22.2%)
Vietnamese      15,517 (15.3%)
Filipino         9,218 ( 9.1%)
Pakistani        7,219 ( 7.1%)
Korean           3,179 ( 3.1%)
Japanese           779 ( 0.8%)
Malaysian          722 ( 0.7%)
Taiwanese          676 ( 0.7%)
Thai               252 ( 0.2%)
Indonesian         243 ( 0.2%)
Bangladeshi        190 ( 0.2%)
Cambodian          111 ( 0.1%)
Other            3,308 ( 3.3%)

投票在这里 (Vote Here)

October 12, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

Harris County looks like it’s set for adding Chinese to the ballot now. Waiting to hear back on whether this means it’ll need to be in place for November or if it waits until the 2012 cycle.

Leaving Alabama

» NY Times: After Ruling, Hispanics Flee an Alabama Town
» Wash. Post: A tough new Alabama law targets illegal immigrants and sends families fleeing

Two similar stories on the heels of the Alabama immigration law being upheld, both worth a read. For those in need of some quick stats to go along with the read, The Post primarily covers Foley (located between Mobile & Pensacola on the gulf) while the NYT sticks to Albertville (inland, between Gadsden and Huntsville). Foley is about 9% Hispanic (out of a population >14k) while Albertville is 28% Hispanic (out of >21k total).

In both cases, the situation strikes me as somewhat parallel to a lot of other small town explosions in Hispanic population. In the early phase of this migration pattern, this type of growth used to be something of a “Des Moines phenomenon” … places (like Des Moines) that weren’t accustomed to seeing a natural pocket of Hispanic population in decades past suddenly getting an influx of them. Now the phenomenon is geographically broader than a few isolated examples. Closer to home in Texas, Smith & Gregg Counties (Tyler & Longview) are about 17-18% Hispanic. East Texas counties such as Shelby (16%) and Rusk (14%), just to throw two more random examples into the mix are seeing the same thing. And when you compare the CVAP population to the ACS’s VAP, the ratios are particularly low. So it’s not for nothing that the local rednecks – and I have kinfolk from Shelby County, so I can call them that – in various state legislatures are raising their alarm over illegal immigration in recent years.

I, or anyone else in the world, can argue to the high heavens about whether their animus ought to be with the employers in their area who are luring the workers in and hiring undocumented workers. Whether an old and aging small town wishes to have a thriving business or just another abandoned building or nursing home may be more fodder for absolutely wonderful conversation. But the folks in areas such as these are definitely seeing something new for the very first time and laws such as the ones in Alabama and Arizona are the end result of it.

From at least one angle of the bigger picture of all of this, I’m curious to see what the impact of laws such as this have on re-shuffling Hispanic population on a broader scale. If nothing else, it’s a point to chalk up as another reason to think that the type of demographic change we saw in the last decade won’t necessarily be matched in the current decade. Birth and death rates still nudge some gravity toward increased Hispanic population shares. But the impact of laws such as Alabama’s and the overall slowdown in international migration don’t seem ready to amplify that shift as it did during the last decade.

One final parallel that might be worth making from the Post’s version of the tale:

William Lawrence, the principal of Foley Elementary School, said frightened immigrant families withdrew 25 students last week, even though all the children were U.S. citizens. He said the Hispanic community was swept by rumors that parents would be arrested when they came to collect their children. Many families asked teachers and others to act as their children’s emergency drivers or legal guardians.

“We are doing all we can to reassure parents that their kids are safe, and things have calmed down some, but this was extremely wrong,” Lawrence said. “I hope our lawmakers did not do it deliberately. They won, because now people are leaving. But there is no reason to create such terrible fear of parents being separated from their children.”

Compare that to Ben Smith’s observation from a recent panel discussion:

I participated in a panel on the topic of the Hispanic vote at Advertising Week in New York yesterday, and was struck by two items in the remarks by the pollsters and Latino politics on the panel: That immigration isn’t the top issue for Hispanic voters (“I don’t care about immigration,” Univision executive Chiqui Cartagena announced), and that Hispanic voters are intensely sensitive to rhetoric — more, in the view of some, than policy — that comes off as bigoted or as playing to bigots.

As a general rule, it strikes me as unwise to reduce the matter to thinking that Hispanics tilt in favor of (or at least more neutrally toward) illegal immigration. My own experience instructs me that views toward immigration are far more complex among the audience sample that’s in my network. But that complexity cuts two ways, as Smith’s point touches on. In other words, just because there may not be a sizable share of Hispanic voters who sympathize with illegal immigrants, they’re still likely to know when a bigot is just being a bigot and not respond sympathetically to that either.

So it’s still a game of chicken that the GOP seems to want to play with Hispanic voters. It may not be quite as cut-and-dried as your garden variety hot button issue. But it’s still a game of chicken. After all, it’s not the undocumented population that can’t vote that they’re scaring off … it’s the legal, been here for a long time, and voting share of the Hispanic population. And that share is still going to grow over time.

Gulfton North?

October 3, 2011 Politics-2011 No Comments

» Wash. Post: In Langley Park, Purple Line brings promise, and fears, of change

Something about this sounds familiar …

People here represent more than 40 countries and speak dozens of languages. Nearly 80 percent are Hispanic, according to the census.

“It is so amazing the diversity that we have here,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, the state’s largest Latino advocacy group, based in Langley Park. “There’s a sense of neighborhood, a sense of community.”

Here, people are constantly crossing the busy roads and huddling to wait for buses. In the parking lots of some commercial plazas, men in construction gear wait for someone to drive by with an offer of a day job. People from all over come to shop for ethnic food.

My goodness, it’s the Maryland equivalent to Gulfton! There’s even some quality reporting on the neiborhood value of taco trucks …

Some things have changed here in the past few years. The vendors that used to be on just about every corner selling traditional Latino meals such as pupusas (a traditional Salvadoran dish of corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, pork, refried beans or a combination) are gone.

They left after a police crackdown following an outbreak of violence in 2007. A handful of people still sell food, either out of shopping carts or, like Martinez, from their homes.

“When the [food] trucks were there, almost every truck had some people around it,” recalls William Hanna, a professor with the University of Maryland’s Urban Studies and Planning Department, who has been studying Langley Park for more than a decade. “They served as center places for socialization. And the streets were lively. There was a lot of people just hanging out.”

Now, the enforcement of a law banning the trucks has “cut the heart of the socialization,” Hanna said.

In standard news reporting operating procedure, there is “conflict” in this story. And in this case, it has to do with the planned extension of the DC Metro rail line into Langley Park and plans (or potential) for redevelopment in the area. From my few cursory glances at the Maryland side of DC, the real estate values are certainly higher than I’m accustomed to, but they do seem to be on par with many suburban areas. In comparing Langley Park to Silver Spring, however, the differences don’t seem quite that stark despite Silver Spring having gone through a fair amount of redevelopment in recent years. My very rough ballpark analysis is that it’s a difference of average rent being around $1000-1200 in Langley Park and in the vicinity of $1400-1800 in Silver Spring. And in the case of Langley Park, I don’t see too many examples of places that are at risk of being torn down if a developer wants to remake something for a wealthier slice of the population. So any displacement, I would think, would be minimal or at least slow to evolve. But still … that’s the nature of the conflict that the story seems to point toward.

While a quick demographic check of the area does indicate a fair share of Hispanic population in the area, its worth noting that the amount of real estate is fairly small. For whatever reason, I ran a CVAP view of the area instead of a Total Population view of it. But at that level, there are three blockgroups that have a Hispanic majority. Those are surrounded by three block groups with no demographic majority and one with an African-American majority. Each of those that surrounds the three Hispanic majority block groups has a sizable population share of Hispanics, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see several of the surrounding block groups have a Hispanic majority when counting Total Population.

The article goes on to quote an African-American county official from the immediately adjacent Montgomery County:

In the long run, the Purple Line will bring new investment to the area and new clients for the small businesses in the corridor, said Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), who represents the eastern part of the county that borders Langley Park.

“My perspective on this is that if you don’t redevelop that area, it will never improve,” Ervin said. “I believe that all the residents of Langley Park deserve to have a beautiful community with amenities, with walkability and nice bike trails and parks, and all these things come with redevelopment.”

… but no word from the Prince George County elected official who happens to be Hispanic. Since it may or may not be that the Hispanic presence in the area and the differences it has from surrounding neighborhoods is at risk in redevelopment, the lack of any quote from the Pr. George elected official seems to be a genuine lacking of this story.

What’s also not given enough detail in the story is what exactly it is that needs to “improve.” The article does reference this story from 2007 in regard to the scarcity of food trucks. But there’s not much else mentioned.

My own interest in this story is that Maryland is currently contesting a statewide referendum on the recently enacted Dream Act in the state. If it does come to a vote, it will be interesting to see where the law is lacking in public support. It wouldn’t surprise me to see many African-American areas as unsupportive of the law. And that makes this yet another case study of how the Democratic Party’s coalition is at risk as elected officials struggle to pass laws that don’t necessarily speak to the entirety of the coalition. I think you see the same thing when you have wealthy suburban areas represented by Anglo Democrats more resistant to tax hikes on high earners despite such taxes polling well among Democrats as a whole. One of the points that a panelist made at the Hobby Conference here in town a few weeks ago was why Democrats were so quick to defend Social Security despite the fact that they were losing the votes of the people most reliant upon it at the same time that younger voters were more likely to see the value of alternatives to the program.

I don’t put that forth with any hope of offering an immediate solution to all that ails the Democratic Party. I think it’ll be a challenge that plays out in a lot of different ways and in different ways to different parts of the party’s coalition. In other words: we’ll see.

ADD-ON: As a first step toward being all “completist” on the topic, here’s the result of the CVAP majority mapping done in the two-county region that includes Langley Park. As mentioned previously, a Total Population (or even an 18+ Population) mapping would be expected to indicate even more areas with a Hispanic majority.

The coloring scheme is as it always is: red = Anglo majority, black = Afr-Am majority, brown = Hispanic majority, and yellow = no majority. The blue line that you might be able to make out is the county line between Prince George and Montgomery counties. Washington, DC is to the immediate southwest of all this.

The Demographics of Cook County (IL)

September 30, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

I had intended to merely post this for the sake of artistry if nothing else, but a little bit of number-crunching proves that Cook County Illinois (ie – Chicago, home of Jake & Elwood, da Bears, etc) is another case in point where a majority-minority area becomes majority-Anglo when you look at it in terms of Citizen Voting Age Population and the likely electorate. And yes, I’m well aware that “Anglo” is wildly mislabeled when talking about the ethnic pool that is Chicago. Anyways, the CVAP-majority map is below. Click it to big it, if you’re that curious …

Legend: red = Anglo/caucasian majority; brown = Hispanic majority; black = African-American majority; green = Asian majority; yellow = no majority

The math is as follows:

            COOK COUNTY              VAP               CVAP
Total ..... 5,194,675           3,962,395           3,415,340
Anglo ..... 2,278,358 (43.9%)   1,906,502 (48.1%)   1,840,731 (53.9%)
Hispanic .. 1,244,762 (24.0%)     822,242 (20.8%)     456,386 (13.4%)
Afr-Am .... 1,265,778 (24.4%)     923,363 (23.3%)     938,180 (27.5%)
Asian .....   318,869 ( 6.1%)     256,892 ( 6.5%)     151,352 ( 4.4%)

Interestingly, the African-American population grows in overall raw numbers from the Census Bureau’s VAP counts to the ACS’s CVAP counts.

Given the Dem-friendly tilt to the county, there’s obviously a substantial share of Anglo Dems presnet in the county. I think those of us who have read up on the old-school Daley machine can figure out a few differences here as opposed to the Anglo Dem areas in, say, Houston, Denver, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, which have less ethnic diversity among the caucasian population. I haven’t gotten around to mapping any election results to compare and contrast, but my hunch is that the Jewish, GLBT & multi-degreed folk share of that segment might be a minority within the full “Anglo Dem” reach of the county.

In poking around through some election results, I did find it interesting that Dick Durbin outpolled Barack Obama in 2008 in the county (72.6% to 66.6%). Just glancing around for the most solidly-white areas of the county that I could find, Orland Park went 48.7% for Obama (with McCain winning the township) and 61.2% for Durbin. That was the most extreme case of Obama losing and Durbin winning that I could find. If I get my hands on some precinct results, there’s no telling what I’ll end up doing with Cook and a few surrounding counties.

For now, take it for whatever it’s worth to you. What I find striking is that the pattern of growth in what I label as “multicultural” areas, while substantial, doesn’t seem as striking in several other locations with sizable population shares among three or more demographic groups. Maybe that’s a homer bias on my part, maybe it’s because I haven’t gone through the trouble of mapping out the previous Census results to track the growth. But at first glance, it looks as if Houston, Los Angeles and New York represent the high end of the population share living in such a region. If I had an army of demographers, database geeks, and researchers, I’d probably do something like calculate out the Top 20 or so counties to see how each looks. I’m not quite putting that on my weekend to-do list, but it’s obviously something that’s going to gnaw away at me for a while until it does make the list.

ADD-ON: One of the more interesting redistricting doodles of the past couple of decades has been Illinois’ 4th Congressional District. It’s a challenge aimed at finding a way to draw a viable Hispanic district with the Hispanic population split geographically (not entirely dissimilar to how Houston’s 18th and 29th have to find some tight points of connection). So, for the sake of understanding, here’s why the new CD4 is drawn the way it is:

The Baby Bubble

September 24, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» Foreign Policy: The World Will Be More Crowded — With Old People

Another driver of the slowdown in immigration …

Which countries will be aging most rapidly in 2025? They won’t be in Europe, where birth rates fell comparatively gradually and now show some signs of ticking up. Instead, they’ll be places like Iran and Mexico, which experienced youth bulges that were followed quickly by a collapse in birth rates. In just 35 years, both Iran and Mexico will have a larger percentage of their populations over 60 than France does today. Other places with birth rates now below replacement levels include not just old Europe but also developing countries such as Brazil, Chile, China, Lebanon, Tunisia, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Because of the phenomenon of hyper-aging in the developing world, another great variable is already changing as well: migration. In Mexico, for example, the population of children age 4 and under was 434,000 less in 2010 than it was in 1996. The result? The demographic momentum that fueled huge flows of Mexican migration to the United States has waned, and will wane much more in the future. Already, the net flow of illegal Mexican immigration northward has slowed to a trickle. With fewer children to support and not yet burdened by a huge surge of elders, the Mexican economy is doing much better than in the past, giving people less reason to leave. By 2025, young people on both sides of the border may struggle to understand why their parents’ generation built this huge fence.

Harris County will be a particularly interesting datapoint to watch in the years ahead. As of the latest Census, the county is 40.8% Hispanic compared to 2000′s 32.9% share. Whether the overall slowdown in immigration or Harris County’s status as an immigration entry point drives Hispanic population growth up or down over the next decade remains to be seen. There’s still the bubble represented by the already-present differences in age groups within Harris County. The under-18 population is already 51% Hispanic. That’s not enough to drive the total Hispanic population share to majority status within a decade and it remains to be seen where that generation settles given that the previous generation has already started the process of diffusion throughout the county. If the county is to reach majority-Hispanic status in the next decade, it will because the older, more Anglo population continues to migrate elsewhere and to die off while the county’s status as an entry point for immigration continues while the sheer numbers of those immigrating slow down.

New ACS Data Coming This Week

September 19, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» Chron: Census data still fascinate agency’s veteran leader (Jeannie Kever)

One newsie followup from Friday’s Lanier Public Policy Conference as the Chron’s Jeannie Kever catches up with the keynoter from the event, U.S. Census Bureau, Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg …

Q: This week the bureau released economic data showing poverty levels are up and many Americans are still hurting from the recession. How might policy makers use that information?

A: I’m sure there were hundreds, maybe thousands of stories on that. We view that as being one piece of the puzzle that policy makers will be dealing with. We’ll be putting out another crunch of data on (Thursday), when we release the 2010 American Community Survey. Typically, we put out the facts and let others draw the conclusions.

The one-year ACS releases will be interesting to see how Citizen Voting Age Population figures stack up to the 2005-09 data. Unfortunately for me, the one-year data isn’t detailed enough to be released at the Census Tract or blockgroup level. It’ll be available at the city and county level, though. And those totals are certainly useful.

One of the nicer things to look forward to is that this now creates a fairly rich pool of data to come out of the Census Bureau every year, as the ACS plans on releasing individual year updates and rolling that into the three-year and five-year datasets. That sure beats waiting ten years for a lot of the data that’s now included in the ACS. It should also lead to better population projections between Census releases, as several jurisdictions – not just Houston – had quite a shock in the disparity of their 2008/09 projections and the 2010 Census returns.

The one-year release is the precursor for adding to the rolling three-year and five-year data release, which will have an update come out in December. That should allow for a 2006-2010 version of the CVAP maps to be updated. Yeah, I know … I’m already planning Christmas and High School playoff football around it.

The Holdouts

September 18, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» NY Times: Staying Put in a City of Change

Another great story of demographic change. In this case, it’s sans numbers, charts or maps. But its still a very well told story.

What was once the Locker Room, a sex club where patrons checked their clothes at the door, is now a cosmopolitan bar with pressed-tin ceilings. J’s Hangout, a gay club in her building into which men used to vanish for days, is now a splashy Mexican restaurant with blaring dance music and tacos that cost $18. Stretch Hummers and off-duty bankers have replaced the meat trucks and swingers. The Whitney Museum of American Art is moving nearby.

Ms. Brown said she used to feel as if she were living in a surreal movie. From her window, she could see butchers “in white coats covered in blood, warming their hands over fires in oil cans as pig carcasses are flying by.”

Now she has a view of the Apple store, where lines wind around the block whenever a new gadget is released. “I’m used to seeing some things outside,” she said, “but not white people in sleeping bags.”

She has become something of a hero to stalwarts; a blog dedicated to “Vanishing New York” has cataloged her memories. She has thought about moving, but not seriously; her rent-stabilized apartment and its 18 windows would be impossible to match.

Ms. Brown pines for the old days — “I cannot believe I miss that stench!” — but she understands the futility of New York nostalgia. “If you embrace this city, you have to embrace the fact that it’s not going to stay the same,” she said.

Among the points made by Ron Brownstein at the Lanier Conference on Friday was that future Democratic majorities will not be crafted by winning back the old conservative Democratic areas that are increasingly fading into the rear view mirror (ie – East Texas). Instead, any successful majority is going to have to come from minorities and Anglos who are fine with diversity.

There’s a point that I see in this point from my own Sharpstown/Gulfton. There are certainly a number of old guard, dead-enders who will never move out of Sharpstown and yet who refuse to shop at either of the two nearby Fiesta grocery stores (for a number of reasons that can certainly go beyond tribalism). They’ll also likely continue to vote Republican in partisan elections and against minority candidates in non-partisan elections. But there’s another universe of folks who are absolutely at peace with the demographic change in the area.

Pivoting to my Friday wrap on the conference, one of the takeaways from the powwow was that I left with a lengthy list of metro areas that I’m suddenly curious to map out. What I want to look at are areas that are either new minority-majority areas or on the cusp of becoming minority-majority. I’ve already got Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas) mapped out and should have something upcoming for that. I’m presently eying a 4-county area around Denver for a second act. Clark County is minority-majority, while both Denver County has a slim Anglo majority and the 4-county area around Denver has an even bigger majority. In both cases, though, all of the counties in the two areas went Democratic for the 2010 US Senate election.

And the early returns of what I’m looking at lead me to something I’m still trying to flesh out. Namely, what constitutes the Anglo Dem vote in areas outside of the areas that I’m familiar with in Texas. One big component of this is education – highly educated (namely, multi-degreed folk) are more likely to vote Dem than college-educated and below. There are obviously other constituencies that we have a big share of here in the Houston/Harris area: Jewish voters and the GLBT community. Of more importance going outside of Texas is union households (Clark County has a sizable share of this) and other ethnic communities that have a long tradition of voting Dem.

What’s of primary interest to me in going through much of this is how a constituency of highly-educated Anglos and other Anglos whose interests may differ from minority communities can hold together over the coming 20-30 years. You obviously don’t get that answer just from Census and election data. But look for the groundwork of the research soon. If there are other major metro areas that are of interest for looking at after the two I’ve got lined up, feel free to drop a comment or an email my way. I’m primarily interested in areas where there are sizable shares of three demographic groups as opposed to just those where there’s a more binary dynamic between two groups. And I’m trying (more or less) to stay out of midwestern areas where union membership may drive more Anglo Dem support more than it will in the south and west.

Just to add a little bit of color to the story for the time being (so to speak), here’s a view of Winchester, Nevada, just to the southwest of Las Vegas and that includes part of the strip. A view of the 2005-09 CVAP majority by block group indicates that the area has a solid Anglo majority in the snapshot below, yet every precinct also votes Democratic. There are other solidly Anglo areas in the county where the results are mixed. And it would be good to aggregate a few areas to see what the correllation is. But for now, this is one of the phenomenon that I’m exploring …

The Impending Decline of Alief’s Asian Population Strength

September 4, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

If it seems like I’ve been away from the mapping/census habit recently, its certainly not been for a lack of interesting data. But what I have been looking at recently is a decent way to encapsulate what I think I see going on in the Alief area of Houston, primarily with the Asian population. In terms of national, state, and local aggregated data, Asian population has grown the most rapidly as a percentage against 2000 numbers. But in the case of the Houston area’s biggest Asian population, something very different is going on.

To that end, I’ve tweaked my “population concentration” map concept to add some coloration that allows a visualization of the age/demographic brackets to show where the mix within age brackets suggest a rapid vs more gradual shift for a particular demographic group. This leads to what you see below.

The shorthand version for reading this map is that green represents anticipated “growth” as the population ages while red represents “decline.” The darker the faster it’s likely to happen. The lighter, the more gradual. And if the block group is shaded white, it’s because there isn’t enough change in the Asian population up or down to warrant a conclusion. What you then see is a fairly uniform pattern in Alief and the westward part of Fort Bend County where the Asian population is expected to decline (the red areas). The green areas are more scattered out and they represent areas where the Asian population is expected to rise in the coming years ahead.

full page

The longer-handed version of what I did to create this is as follows: There are four age brackets. Everything is measured against the demographic mix of the 60+ yr-old age bracket. So, if the 30-59 age bracket of the Asian population is more than 7.5% above the share for the 60+ Asians, the assumption is that the block group will experience a gain in the overall share of Asian population sooner rather than later. If the 30-59 age bracket is more than 7.5% below the share for 60+ Asians, it would be expected to experience a decline in the overall share of Asian population sooner rather than later. Both of these would be shaded in the darker green or red, respectively. If the 30-59 bracket doesn’t make either cut, then the question is posed to the 18-29 age bracket. If the same threshold applies, it gets the medium shade of the appropriate color. From there, the process repeats down to the 0-17 age bracket. In this case, I chose 7.5% as the threshold for change. There’s no more reason for that selection than the fact that it meant that enough of the map would be colored in one way or the other, indicating the distribution of the effect.

The caveats that come to my mind for this exercise are as follows: age distribution, and the associated life expectancy measurements that can follow from it, are not the entire story. People can still move in and out. And new immigration patterns can change things drastically. So, for instance, if a new refugee status is granted to some Asian Pacific Island, you might expect to see an influx of population that has nothing to do with what I’m measuring. Likewise, historical districts can be designated and rising home values can impact demographics any number of ways. All this to say that age distribution is but one determinant of the demographic change an area goes through. But it does serve as something of a “gravitational pull” that is often hard to escape. Thousands upon thousands of Anglo schoolchildren will not just magically appear overnight, for instance. And even more important, for the impact of these changes to be realized takes many years – in some cases decades. A lot can change between now and the day when an area is supposed to evolve to the point the data below suggests that it’s headed.

With all that said, the pattern is quite a bit more shocking than even I had expected to see. Typically, it’s easy to find some isolated example that really jumps out to suggest something like “All the Asians are really old and all the Hispanics and African-Americans are really young.” Case in point:

Tract:4531 - Blockgroup: 2
              0-17   18-29    30-59    60+
Hispanic:    58.7%   46.0%   34.2%   15.1%
Anglo:        5.0%    4.8%   10.5%   26.3%
Afr-Am:      18.9%   16.4%   22.9%   10.6%
Asian:       16.4%   33.3%   30.6%   44.1%
Total Pop.:   281     189     571     179

So, instead of relying on some individual datapoints to highlight extreme situations, I do what I do: aggregate. To that end, here are three areas on the west/SW side of Harris County. In each, the age/demographic brackets are broken down so you can get a sense of how each one should “age out” in the coming years ahead. Here are those clusters ….


               TOTAL     ANGLO           HISP           AFR-AM         ASIAN
Total Pop.    128,742  9,758  (7.6)  55,894 (43.4)  34,907 (27.1)  27,233 (21.2)
0-17 Years ..  39,343  1,243  (3.2)  20,034 (50.9)  12,242 (31.1)   5,533 (14.1)
18-29 Years .  23,899  1,255  (5.3)  11,437 (47.9)   6,551 (27.4)   4,504 (18.8)
30-59 Years .  51,854  4,111  (7.9)  21,383 (41.2)  13,958 (26.9)  12,083 (23.3)
60+ Years ...  13,646  3,149 (23.1)   3,040 (22.3)   2,156 (15.8)   5,113 (37.5) 

Right off the bat, you see the impact of that uniform blob of red and orange that says that Alief’s Asian population will drop precipitously as the 60+ers die off or move out to retirement homes. Typically, I don’t like to dwell on the 0-17 bracket since kids tend to move out and about by the time they’ve gone to college, gotten a real job, moved out of mom & dad’s place, and so on. But just dwelling on the fact that 18-29 yr olds are a mere 18.8% Asian, which is close to half the level of the 60+ bracket is pretty strong evidence of what’s going on here.

One sidenote to include for this, of course, is that the 60+ share may be impacted by the higher likelihood of Asian households to have multiple generations within the house. I haven’t done any extensive number crunching on that phenomenon, but it’s not just a stereotype … particularly in Alief. As a minor spoiler, it’s interesting to note that this does not seem to apply to the Memorial cluster identified below.

What deserves a bit more highlighting than I think gets done in some of the local coverage is the growth of the African-American population in both Alief and the other clusters I’ll cover here. It may not be as mathematically significant as the rise in Hispanic population, but the fact that there are other growing populations in the area places a cap on how wildly Hispanic growth can really go. The growth in younger African-American population – nearly doubling as you move from the 60+ bracket to the 18-29 bracket – would suggest that the future here is not so much exclusively “brown” as it is mixed, but with a strong tilt toward brown. Electorally, the impact for Alief Hispanics is likely to be even more muted due to citizenship rates that will drag the CVAP and SSVR numbers down. In short, it could very well be that you never have an electorally strong Hispanic population in this neighborhood over the next two decades.

South of Westheimer

               TOTAL     ANGLO           HISP           AFR-AM         ASIAN
Total Pop.    42,169  10,113 (24.0)  11,558 (27.4)  14,173 (33.6)  5,714 (13.6)
0-17 Years ..  9,097   1,212 (13.3)   3,225 (35.5)   3,501 (38.5)    985 (10.8)
18-29 Years . 10,277   1,867 (18.2)   2,913 (28.3)   4,126 (40.1)  1,218 (11.9)
30-59 Years . 18,220   4,703 (25.8)   4,673 (25.6)   5,960 (32.7)  2,667 (14.6)
60+ Years ...  4,575   2,331 (51.0)     747 (16.3)     586 (12.8)    844 (18.4)

What really jumps out here is what will probably send me on another rabbit trail of demographic exploration. Namely, the even more rapid ascent of the African-American population than seen in Alief. In fact, the pace in this cluster outstrips Hispanic growth. Electorally, much of the impact of this is already felt. The redistricting for State House districts saw the GOP nudge existing Afr-Am districts HD131 and HD146 north, though far short of this region. The shift was met with some outcry among African-American politicians, but the reality is that this is a quickly emerging area of strength for African-American political candidates.


               TOTAL     ANGLO           HISP           AFR-AM         ASIAN
Total Pop.    55,733  26,196 (47.0)  11,874 (21.3)  10,361 (18.6)  6,284 (11.3)
0-17 Years .. 11,482   3,830 (33.4)   3,318 (28.9)   2,623 (22.8)  1,351 (11.8)
18-29 Years . 10,589   3,414 (32.2)   2,733 (25.8)   3,056 (28.9)  1,209 (11.4)
30-59 Years . 24,485  11,784 (48.1)   4,998 (20.4)   4,281 (17.5)  3,037 (12.4)
60+ Years ...  9,177   7,168 (78.1)     825  (9.0)     401  (4.4)    687  (7.5)

We’re into ritzier zip codes here. But if you were to just highlight the 18-29 yr old line, you’d see the makings of Multicultural Houston. And it’s not just a rise in Hispanic population. African-American population (again) grows faster as you work down the age brackets.

The sidenote on the Asian population here is that this cluster covers a sizable share of where you see multiple blockgroups where there is growth as you go down the age brackets. But collectively, that growth doesn’t translate into much in terms of a potential political impact. So, taken together, what each of these clusters suggests with specific regard to the Asian population is that Alief’s population is getting less Hispanic and that the areas where there is growth may not see enough critical mass to benefit Asian candidates. When the excuse was offered that Hispanics were growing in population shares everywhere and that this made it difficult to draw new concentrated, compact districts to empower Hispanic voters, I’m already on record as saying that this was bunk. But in the case of Asian voting strength, this may be the direction for the next decade.

To be sure, there will still be a substantial share of Asians in Alief come 2050. But it’s likelier that it will be south of the 21.2% measured here with 2010 data. It should prove to be worth watching to see other ways in this these changes impact the areas mentioned above.

Census Stories: The Declining Hispanic Birthrate of Arizona

September 1, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» AZ Republic: Hispanic birthrate dips in Arizona

One more reason that future decades will not necessarily replicate the growth seen in Hispanic population growth …

Hispanic women in Arizona are having children at a significantly lower rate than in past decades, which could slow overall population growth if the trend continues, according to new state and federal data.

Experts cite various reasons for the decline.

Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez, director of the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, said the trend is an extension of a pattern that began in Mexico and is likely occurring in other U.S. states. As more Mexicans moved from the rural areas to cities and became more educated, they tended to have fewer children and the birth rate declined. Most Hispanics in Arizona are of Mexican descent.

“Mexico itself has changed from a very rural nation to a very urban one,” he said. “That shift started in the 1960s.”

Between 1960 and 1965, there were 6.75 births per Mexican woman, according to data from the United Nations. By the 1990-95 period, that had fallen to 3.19, the U.N. reports.

Assimilation also could be a factor as birthrates for Hispanics with multiple generations in the U.S. are beginning to mirror those of the country as a whole.

But Vélez-Ibáñez rejects the idea that assimilation alone explains the decline. He said that as in other countries like Mexico, as Hispanics become more educated and more affluent and as divorce rates creep up, their long-term birthrates will keep falling.

“In 20 to 25 years, you’ll have replacement rate (births), and that’s about it,” Vélez-Ibáñez said.

I’m still doing a lot of work slicing up the last Census release into age brackets, so I haven’t gotten as deep as I’d like in other areas that factor into making population projections. But I’m now a lot more curious to see how some of the individual major Texas counties track along with this example.

Georgia Learns About Redistricting & Latinos

» Jim Galloway (AJC): A first Latino district – without a Latino lawmaker

A few things that catch the eye from this report:

- Georgia has had two Hispanics (one from each party) elected to the General Assembly since 2002 without either being elected from a majority-Hispanic district.

- There is now substantial enough Hispanic population in the area to warrant a Hispanic-majority district for the first time.

- Neither of the two Hispanic electeds are drawn into that district.

Not surprisingly, partisan warfare is the culprit. The lone Hispanic Dem is targeted and seems to be drawn out into a more GOP-friendly district. The Hispanic Republican, I assume, is safe. So, the big number that caught my eye in this blog post was the following excerpt from the Georgia Report:

Without moving the lines at all and taking into account the 2010 Census numbers, District #99 stands at 58% (54% CVAP) Latino population and the proposed redrawn legislative district dilutes the Latino population to 56% (52% CVAP).

If you’ve been following along with this blog since January-ish, you might see what set my alarm system off. It would seem that this part of Gwinnett County, Georgia has a CVAP conversion rate of about 90%. Considering Gwinnett’s inclusion in the metropolitan Atlanta area, a 90% CVAP conversion rate for Hispanics would be unheard of. So I dusted off my spreadsheets and got to crunching a little. If you’re weird and you want visuals to see the districts and Hispanic concentration, here’s a Google Earth file for such.

It probably would have saved me time to have gone to the Assembly’s redistricting page* and look at the numbers they show for the new District 99. Turns out the quote was wrong … the population in the new district is 56% TOTAL population Hispanic and 52% VOTING AGE population Hispanic.

A spot-check of one of the towns (Norhill) in the district show a CVAP conversion rate of 19% – which I’ll admit strikes me as incredibly low, but we’re talking about a total H-VAP of 2,680 and a H-CVAP of 515. So perhaps it’s just a function of small numbers and isolated geography showing the occasional weird result. It would make sense to learn that Atlanta is very much an entry-way location for Hispanics in much the same way that Houston or Dallas are here in Texas. But still, I’m at least a little intrigued to see what the overall CVAP conversion rates are in the more immediate area (Atlanta’s citywide rate is 39%, which is still surprisingly low).

The long and short of this is that it never ceases to surprise me how people will view a majority-Hispanic district while recognizing that citizenship plays some sort of vague, mysterious role in the lowering of that number, but then blame Hispanics for “not voting” when they fail to convert that ghost-like majority into the election of a candidate of their choosing. Indeed, if I had to speculate, I’d guess that the new District 99 in this case, is drawn to favor the GOP over a Dem incumbent. Anglo voters should likely be in a majority and racially polarized voting is severe in the Atlanta suburbs.

The numbers aren’t exactly hiding. They’re just not being looked at and talked about enough. And given the historical immigration boom of the last decade that has created population explosions like the one in Gwinnett County or Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, the lack of understanding how it has impacted redistricting is a loss that Hispanic and Latino voters may suffer from for a full decade (all while being blamed for it, to boot).

* – btw, kudos for Georgia putting Google Earth files on their page!

Estamos Viviendo Aquí en Allentown

August 22, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» The Atlantic: El Nuevo Normal: Latinos Transform Pennsylvania Steel Country (Caitlin Dewey)

It’s probably just me – check that, it really is just me and I’m pretty sure that there is no therapist who deals with this specialty – but I found this article insufferable to read without a map and some Census data to give me some sort of idea about the scale this article talks about. To wit, here’s the map of population concentration for Lehigh and Northampton counties (total population; color scale showing 50%+, 40-50%, 20-40%, and 0-40% Hispanic population).

When I mapped out these two counties from the Lehigh Valley, I got an overall count of 15% Hispanic and 76% Anglo. While that might be a dramatic change from the 2000 Census numbers, it didn’t seem overly newsworthy in and of itself. So, given that the bulk of this concentration is in the city of Allentown, it seems relevant to point out that the city is 42.8% Hispanic and 43.2% Anglo as of the 2010 Census. That’s a pretty impressive mix for an area not necessarily regarded as “Transitional” or even “Hispanic.”

Also, I’m reminded of a book that piqued my interest a little too lightly back in 2010, but now I’m suddenly more interested in going back to find: Edgar Sandoval’s “The New Face of Small-Town America: Snapshots of Latino Life in Allentown, Pennsylvania.” There’s a brief Q&A with the author here for a taste. Sadly, the book isn’t Kindle-friendly.

The article itself, struck me as good in some ways that many demographic change stories typically don’t; but still lacked a little bit of info that I think should be included in more such stories. Namely, that missing element is the “why.” As in: why are they moving there? There’s isn’t much of a hint. We get some insight – via a Penn State report – that the local Hispanic population will help “reverse the negative effects of urban blight.” But I doubt that people are just moving there because of an underserved bodega market.

What I did like about this story is that it touched on some of the broader immigration trends that feed into this type of change.

By current estimates, the second generation of Hispanic immigrants will peak in 2025. By 2045, the third generation will outnumber the second. Many demographers hesitate to predict exactly what those changes will entail — it’s too early to guess at the preferences and values of young Hispanics.

But if the current patterns of assimilation hold, we can make a few decent guesses at the national level. English will remain America’s primary language, for one, and Spanglish will fade out after the second generation as speakers lose the need to mix two tongues. Most Hispanics will retain spoken Spanish-language skills, becoming fully bilingual. This could give them an edge in the job market, perhaps pushing non-Hispanic Americans to learn Spanish as well.

Catholicism and conservative social values will remain a strong force in the moral and political lives of Hispanics, though their pull will wane over time. Four of ten first-generation immigrants attend weekly Mass — their grandchildren will likely go sometimes or never. If this trend continues, it could theoretically leach into the political arena, where social issues often determine votes. Early polling already indicates that Hispanic youth lean more liberal on issues like abortion and gay marriage than their parents did.

As for cities, the most contested battlegrounds in immigration turf wars, current research suggests that the borders of ethnic neighborhoods blur over generations. Consider the case of Manhattan’s much-diluted Little Italy, which the New York Times dubbed “Littler Italy” in a February story. Wealthier Hispanics tend to assimilate into Anglo neighborhoods, moving into the suburbs or nicer areas of the city. Poorer Hispanics tend to move into lower-class, largely African-American neighborhoods, where social immobility and lack of opportunity prevail. In these poor neighborhoods, where schools are worse and incoming immigration persists, assimilation might not occur at the rate it does elsewhere.

Regardless of the pace of assimilation, however, the effects will remain the same, say Smith and other forecasters: Two or three generations from now, Hispanics will look, speak, and act like the descendants of first- and second-wave immigrants. In other words, exactly like everyone else.

That’s a good deal of food for thought and future reading. In breaking out the Census data by age, it’s possible to project short-term changes based on life expectancy. That doesn’t account for migration within the US and immigration from outside the US. Nor does it help in accounting for economic factors that can sometimes drive demographic change in ways that go against the grain. But it’s a decent indicator of the way that the rudder is pointing the ship.

There are probably a few questions worth tossing at the theory that Hispanic culture will look increasingly like Anglo culture over time. At least based on the Texas experience. Houston being set aside as more of an entry-point city with more first-generation Latino immigrants, San Antonio and Corpus Christi seem far enough removed from the border to begin being considered as a case study where you have a multi-generational Hispanic population (as indicated by their CVAP conversion rate) that may offer a bit of a counterweight to the notion that, at the end of the day, we all listen to American Top 40 radio.

In any event, lots of good reading. As mentioned in the byline, the writer is a Carnegie-Knight News21.com fellow involved with the “El Nuevo Normal” website (which I wish I knew about earlier). Definitely worth a bookmark.

Harris County Hispanics by Country of Origin

August 19, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

More map & data from the latest Census data. In this one, I’m looking at what percentage of the Hispanic population is not of Mexican origin. Suffice it to say that Southwest Houston stands out in this regard. But the showing in the Memorial area and the southwest area inside the Loop is equally curious.

The overall numbers for Harris County are as follows:

Tot. Hisp. Pop.   1,671,540
Mexican           1,250,401 (74.8%)
Puerto Rican         21,110  (1.3%)
Cuban                14,655  (0.9%)
Other               385,374 (23.1%)

Unfortunately, there isn’t much detail for the “Other” category, but this should track very heavily with Central American origin.

The color-coding for the map is as follows:

Dark Green = >50% non-Mexican origin
Med. Green = 35-50% non-Mexican origin
Light Green = 20-35% non-Mexican origin
White = <20% non-Mexican origin

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Our Increasingly Gray & Brown Future

August 18, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» National Journal: The Gray And The Brown: The Generational Mismatch (Ron Brownstein)

Steve Murdock’s point about Texas demographics enters the national stage …

Two of the biggest demographic trends reshaping the nation in the 21st century increasingly appear to be on a collision course that could rattle American politics for decades. From one direction, racial diversity in the United States is growing, particularly among the young. Minorities now make up more than two-fifths of all children under 18, and they will represent a majority of all American children by as soon as 2023, demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution predicts.

At the same time, the country is also aging, as the massive Baby Boom Generation moves into retirement. But in contrast to the young, fully four-fifths of this rapidly expanding senior population is white. That proportion will decline only slowly over the coming decades, Frey says, with whites still representing nearly two-thirds of seniors by 2040.

These twin developments are creating what could be called a generational mismatch, or a “cultural generation gap” as Frey labels it. A contrast in needs, attitudes, and priorities is arising between a heavily (and soon majority) nonwhite population of young people and an overwhelmingly white cohort of older people. Like tectonic plates, these slow-moving but irreversible forces may generate enormous turbulence as they grind against each other in the years ahead.

The contrast between the demographics of the elderly and those still in elementary school has no shortage of examples to make the kind of point Brownstein makes in this feature story. But there are a number of instances where the culture clash is happening faster. And this serves as a pivot point for some of the age/demographic breakdowns I’ve been digging through with the latest Census release.

A case in point can be seen below. In the case of this Spring Branch area block group, the disparity isn’t just between the 60+ population’s 83% Anglo segment and 0-17 population’s 82% Hispanic segment. There’s an earlier culture clash that will happen as the 60+ set dies off or moves out and the 30-59 year old population – which is 61% Hispanic – becomes an even more dominant force in the neighborhood.

For a fuller view of this here’s a handy map of Harris County highlighting block groups where the different age brackets for Hispanic population is more than 25% points greater than the 60+ Hispanic share. Where the 30-59 age bracket is more than 25% greater, the area is colored dark green. Where the 18-30 age bracket is more than 25% greater (but the 30-59 bracket is not), the area is colored medium green. Where only the 0-17 age bracket is more than 25% greater, the area is colored light green. Areas where there is no difference that large are shaded white.

In short, the map should be read to highlight areas where demographic change is likely to have an earlier impact in that area. My rationale for this is that the 0-17 age bracket doesn’t necessarily end up living in the same area. But older age brackets should be more persistent. And where there is a more immediate difference of the magnitude looked at, there is bound to be a truer indication of change in the electoral habits and community leadership, among other changes.

There are some shortcomings to this particular measurement. Namely, it doesn’t indicate a difference between an area that is set to go from 0% Hispanic to 25% Hispanic and another that is set to go from 25% Hispanic to 100% Hispanic. But it’s still useful for investigative purposes. And if you start off with a good recollection of the “Majority Demographic Map” layout of the county, it adds some context.

Among the items that jump out the loudest is the relatively immediate shift likely to be seen in the Spring Branch area. While I think it’s no great surprise that there’s the sort of demographic discrepancy between the elderly and the school-aged, the age/demographic map suggests that the shift is likely to occur far faster as the 30-59 age bracket becomes more of a majority.

I think some aggregation of block groups is in order to draw any larger conclusions relative to the obvious change going on in Spring Branch. But a review of Sharpstown, for instance, suggests that the change there will be more subtle. Block groups are showing a growing Hispanic majority in the area, but in those without heavy apartment concentrations, the percentages are in the mid-50s for Hispanics. That suggests a far more gradual evolution for the area with negligible electoral change on the horizon.

It will probably be over the weekend that I get around to doing some aggregating of the data to look at individual regions. Of particular interest, Alief, Sharpstown and Spring Branch are a given. If there’s an area of particular interest for you, feel free to drop a comment or send an email and I’ll see if I can work it into my weekend workload.

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