Survey Maps Cultural Diversity In the United States

Survey Maps Cultural Diversity In the United States

The Beyond Diversity Resource Center recently released a survey that shows the level of cultural diversity in both states and major urban areas. Maps that compare the diversity ranking for states and urban areas were produced as part of the survey.

“Where you live strongly determines the cultural diversity around you,” says Robin Parker, the executive director for the Center. The Center compiled U.S. Census Bureau data for the 50 states and 20 most populous urbanized areas to complete the survey. Both states and urbanized areas were assigned a “diversity index score” based on the probability of encountering a person of a different race, while factoring in population density.

“Based on diversity index scores, a person living in Hawaii is 10 times more likely to encounter a person of a different race than is a person living in Maine. Similarly, a person living in the San Francisco-Oakland urbanized area is more than twice as likely to encounter a person of a different race than is a person living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul urbanized area,” says Parker. “Because the diversity index scores measure not only the diversity of persons living in a state or urbanized area, but also how close persons live to each other, the survey gives a good general guide to the opportunity individuals have to meet others who are racially different from themselves.”

The survey showed that Hawaii and California stood out as states with very high diversity. The east coast states of Maryland, New Jersey and New York ranked highly, as did the southern states of New Mexico, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and South Carolina. States with the lowest diversity included Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Iowa, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. All but one of the 20 most populous urbanized areas showed at least an average amount of diversity, and many showed high or very high diversity.

“Diversity index scores are just a starting place for looking at diversity,” Parker emphasizes. “Because the scores are best understood as a snapshot of the relative opportunity for diversity, they really indicate how hard an individual must work to include diversity within his or her life. Thus, in general a person living in Wyoming would have to work harder to meet and work with different race people than a person living in New Jersey.”

The center’s maps of diversity for states and urbanized areas are available for download at <>.

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