Friday, September 28, 2012

The Great Migration

The U.S. Census Bureau analyzed data on population change, by race, for two key periods that characterize The Great Migration (1910-1970) during which blacks residents moved out of the southeast.

The color of map bubbles represents the percentage point change in black population in a given city between 1910-1940 (left) and 1940-1970 (right). Darker orange shows that the black population increased as a share of the city's population. Darker blue shows that the share decreased.
Image source
What I find interesting about the 1940-1970 chart is that New Orleans and Atlanta (and, to a lesser extent, Augusta and Chattanooga) both buck the otherwise nearly universal southern trend. Each city saw an increasing proportion of black residents 1940-1970.

However, it is important to note two key caveats in the data:

  • Population shares may have changed due to migration or as a result of natural increase (births, life expectancy), though most of the change is attributable to migration.
  • Data are shown only for cities "that were either in the top 100 cities in the country or top 3 of a state and had a Black population of at least 100 people." This means that some change shown on the chart may have been a shift from suburbs-to-cities or vice-versa.

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