NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charting the Increase in America's Diversity

March 15, 2001

Using 2000 Census data, USA Today has compiled an index which tracks the growth in racial and ethnic diversity in 64 U.S. metropolitan areas.

The index calculates the probability that two people picked at random will be of a different race and ethnicity, given the percentage of each race in the overall population. The probability is expressed on a 0-to-100 scale. Here are some of the results:

  • Because of the increase in immigration, there is an almost one-in-two chance, or 49 on a 100 point scale, that any two people chosen at random would be of a different race and ethnicity.
  • That's up from a one-in-three chance (34) in 1980 and four-in-10 chance (40) in 1990.
  • Even in an already diverse state such as Texas, the index went from 55 to 62 during the 1990s, and in a state with little diversity, such as Iowa, it went from 8 to 14.

The index is based on each of the five race categories recognized by the federal government -- white, black, Asian, American Indian and Native Hawaiian -- and the percentages of Hispanics and non-Hispanics, who can be of any race.

Source: Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, "Index Charts Growth in Diversity," USA Today, March 15, 2001.

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