Race & Ethnicity: Data Snapshots

By Lars Plougmann@Flickr.com

Following the release of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 Census, several demographers and research institutes are worth noting for the helpful graphs and maps they have created to highlight changes in the racial and ethnic landscape of America. These data snapshots, based on the 2010 U.S. Census and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, offer a quick and easy overview of the country’s racial and ethnic make-up in terms of residential segregation, income segregation, population changes, and other demographic shifts over the past few decades.

The Census Bureau has also put out some great interactive maps and data profiles of interest to both researchers and the general public. Its interactive population map, for example, allows users to follow demographic changes from state to state, right down to census blocks within cities. You can easily locate your own census track or block by a search feature and find out the demographic make-up of your neighborhood.

Other interesting data snapshots are the work of sociologist and demographer Dr. William H. Frey, which can be accessed through his website and the University of Michigan’s Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN). His visual depiction of population changes includes each state, going back to the 1900s. These charts and graphs illustrate segregation rates over the past 30 years by state to provide an overview of residential changes over time. Brown University’s US 2010 Research Project is another useful tool for examining levels of segregation. The site lets users access information on segregation for Metropolitan Statistical Areas using measures that include the index of dissimilarity and exposure indices.

Together, these tools offer a general visual understanding of America’s racial and ethnic population changes and its residential orientation in a Post-Civil Rights era.


Author: Julian Thompson

Julian Thompson is a research assistant at the Social Science Research Center at DePaul University. He is completing his MA in Sociology and is expecting to begin doctoral studies in the fall of 2012. Broadly speaking, his interests revolve around issues of identity, culture, power, legal practices and discourses, and inequality. His specific research domains are prisons, punishment, ex-offender reentry, street life, mental illness, and immigration detention and deportation. However, he is particularly interested in studying the racialized experiences of imprisonment and re-entry and the way these impact the racial understandings that offenders of color inculcate and use when making sense of their lives and criminal engagements.

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