| Demographic changes affecting church
now an emerging reality for nation
WASHINGTON — Catholics in the United States have been told frequently over the past decade or more about the demographic changes coming to the makeup of their church — especially with the growing number of Hispanics now living in the U.S.
Now, however, it's the United States' turn to recognize and deal with the emerging reality of demographic change.
In a Dec. 15 program at the Brookings Institution, Brookings senior fellow William Frey, a demographer and trend-spotting expert, outlined some of the truths that can be gleaned from U.S. Census data that appear in his new book "Diversity Explosion."
For one thing, a majority of Americans in all races and ethnic groups now live in the suburbs, not in the central cities. This was true of Asians by the 1990 census, and of Hispanics in the 2000 census. The 2010 census showed that 51 percent of all African-Americans now live in suburban jurisdictions.
Among African-Americans, after generations of South-to-North migration, the pattern is now North-to-South. An illustration of this is in metropolitan Chicago and Atlanta. Fifty years ago, there were 1.2 million African-Americans in the Chicago area — three times that of Atlanta. Today, both metropolitan areas have more than 1.6 million African-Americans, and metro Atlanta has the edge over the Windy City.
More telling details lie in the migration of Hispanics within the United States. Frey identified 145 U.S. communities that show a large influx of Hispanics where previously there had been relatively few. He also found another 44 communities where Hispanics already having a significant presence, but large numbers are headed there, and 43 more where Hispanics are a considerable portion of the population but where growth is more modest.
Many of these communities were in the coastal and southeastern portions of the United States. Very few regions were exempt from this growth in Hispanic population; New England was one part of the country that was host to none of these Hispanic population trends.
Enrique Pumar, chairman of the sociology department at The Catholic University of America, Washington, and a fellow at its Institute on Policy Research & Catholic Studies, told Catholic News Service that Frey failed to mention "racial tensions that initially erupt in many areas that were traditionally dominated by one group, and we have newcomers who are moving there, and they don't know quite well what to make of it."
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