Skip to navigation

Skip to main content


August 1994, Volume 1, Number 7

Immigration and Balkanization

Detailed analyses of 1990 Census data are reinforcing earlier suggestions that, as mostly unskilled immigrants move into states and cities, unskilled Americans move out. This represents an historic change--at the beginning of the 20th century, mass immigration led to greater racial and cultural mixing--the melting pot. The mass migration currently underway, by contrast, is producing white flight and greater ethnic divisions.

Demographer William Frey of the University of Michigan noted that most immigrants move to seven states--California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas. Illinois, and Massachusetts-and usually to a few cities within these states, such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami. All these states, except Florida, experienced a net outflow of poorer and less-educated US citizens during the late 1980s. As a result, Frey fears that the melting pot theory will not play out well for today's immigrants. Instead, there may be conflicts between older, better-educated, and white US citizens, and younger, unskilled, minority immigrants.

Ann Scott Tyson, "Ethnic, Economic Divisions of US Growing," Christian Science Monitor, July 7, 1994, 3. Copies of William Frey's research reports 94-304--Immigration and Internal Migration "Flight" from US Metro Areas: 1990 Census Findings by Race, Poverty and Education--and 94-306--Immigration and Internal Migration "Flight": 1990 Census Findings for California are available from the UM Population Studies Center, 1225 S University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.