Immigration, Migration and Demographic Polarization in the U.S., 1995-2000

Brad Foster, University of Washington

Some evidence suggests that the selective migration patterns of immigrants and natives in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s contributed to demographic polarization along the lines of ethnicity, race, age, income, and education. The implied assumption that this polarization was driven by native “flight” has been heavily scrutinized, however, and the extent and importance of polarization on a national scale relies on the continuation of selective migration patterns. I examine 1995-2000 county migration data for evidence of such continuation and question the native "flight" assumption. Results show that polarizing selective migration patterns continued into the late 1990s. Net of other factors, counties with larger immigrant inflow rates experienced greater native outmigration. Moreover, the distance traveled by native migrants increased as a function of immigration in surrounding counties. These findings support the implicit native “flight” assumption and reiterate the importance of extra-local effects for migration studies.

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Presented in Poster Session 8