“White flight” was one of the major demographic trends of the 20th century, wherein tons of Americans of European descent moved from the cities to the suburbs.
According a Brookings report by demographer William H. Frey, they’re coming back.
Using numbers from the American Community Survey, Frey found that nearly half a million white people moved into America’s largest 50 cities from 2010 to 2014.
From 1990 to 2000, about 1.5 million white people left.
The report, which we first spotted on the Atlantic’s City Lab, makes the case that millennials are driving the population change.
As you can see from the below graph, over 300,000 thousand white people aged 25-34 moved into America’s big cities between 2010 and 2014.
You could argue that it’s the parents of the 25 to 34 age group that make up the second and third largest population shifts, with over 280,000 whites aged 65 to 74 and 100,000 whites aged 55 to 64 moving into cities. As has been noted in countless trend stories, “empty nesters” are moving back into the city.
For Frey, the most noteworthy thing about the data are those cities that have turned back the clock on decades of white decline in urban areas.
“These include Detroit which registered a modest 2010-2014 white gain of 14,000 after sustaining white losses for the past 60 years,” he writes. “Other white gainers after at least 20 years of white losses are New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Louisville, Nashville, Baltimore, Kansas City, and New Orleans.”
Yet this does not mean that American cities — or the US in general — is getting whiter. Indeed, millennials are the most diverse generation yet, with 44% belonging to a minority ethnic group, compared to 21% of Baby Boomers.
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