The most diverse cities in the United States

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Diversity has become an increasingly popular issue in media and politics. Crucial to views on immigration and a key issue behind the Black Lives Matter movement, diversity is not only an important social justice issue, but overwhelming evidence shows that diversity fosters a variety of benefits for workplaces, schools, and communities.

Research by McKinsey has shown that a diverse workforce can improve financial performance. Racially diverse schools and classrooms create cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. And living in a diverse community can positively impact an individual’s identity and how they interact with others.

As of 2017, non-Hispanic whites make up 61 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanics/Latinos and blacks account for 18 percent and 12 percent respectively. Asians, American Indians, and other races comprise the remaining 9 percent of the population.

While non-Hispanic whites are still the majority today, this picture is changing as the U.S. is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Projections made by the U.S Census Bureau indicate that non-Hispanic whites will make up less than 50 percent of the population by 2045.

This demographic milestone will occur even sooner for children under the age of 18, with whites estimated to comprise less than 50 percent of the young population by 2020.

At the same time that America is becoming more racially diverse, the immigrant share of the population is approaching historic highs. Immigrants in the U.S. now account for 13.7 percent of the population, up from a low of 4.7 percent in 1970 but still below the peak of 14.8 percent in 1890.

While the U.S. has more total immigrants than any other country in the world, according to Pew Research, America’s foreign-born population as a percentage of total is still modest. For context, 22 percent of people in Canada and 28 percent of people in Australia are foreign-born.

Mexico is the most common country of origin for immigrants to the U.S., followed by India and China. Combined, Latin American and Asian countries account for more than 80 percent of the U.S.’s foreign-born population.

Census Bureau projections also indicate that between 2020 and 2050, the population increase from immigration will outpace that from native births. As the baby boomer generation ages and the fertility rate continues to decline below what’s needed for the population to replace itself, immigration will become the biggest contributor to population growth in the coming years, creating an even more diverse population.

While the trend is clear at a national level, diversity varies widely by location. To find the most diverse cities and states in the U.S., researchers at HeyTutor analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. HeyTutor measured diversity by averaging two separate Simpson Diversity Indexes (one that measures the degree of racial/ethnic diversity and one measuring birthplace diversity). A Simpson Diversity Index can be interpreted as the probability that any resident chosen at random will belong to separate groups.

Key findings

  • Nationally, both the racial/ethnic diversity index and the birthplace diversity index are 58, creating an overall diversity score of 58 as well. Cities and states with numbers significantly above are more heterogeneous, having stronger representation among different racial and geographic groups. Conversely, areas with numbers significantly below 58 are more homogeneous than the nation as a whole.
  • At the state level, Hawaii, California, and Florida are the most diverse, while Vermont, Maine, and West Virginia are the least diverse. In general, states on the coasts tend to be more diverse than states in the middle of the country.
  • States in the U.S. are as different as the cities that comprise them. The data shows that cities within the same state can differ substantially with regard to diversity and that some of the most diverse cities in the U.S. are not found within the most diverse states.

Here are the most diverse small, midsize, and large cities in the U.S.

The most diverse large cities in the U.S.

25. Jacksonville, Florida

Overall diversity score: 62.7
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 63.2
Birthplace diversity index: 62.3
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in-state: 48.9%
Percentage of residents foreign-born: 12.1%
Most common foreign country of origin: Philippines

24. Raleigh, North Carolina

Overall diversity score: 63.1
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 62.7
Birthplace diversity index: 63.5
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 46.5%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 14.0%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

23. Anaheim, California

Overall diversity score: 63.3
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 61.5
Birthplace diversity index: 65.0
Most common racial/ethnic group: Hispanic or Latino
Percentage of residents born in state: 52.5%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 37.1%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

22. Austin, Texas

Overall diversity score: 64.0
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 64.4
Birthplace diversity index: 63.7
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 52.8%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 18.7%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

21. Fort Worth, Texas

Overall diversity score: 64.4
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 68.1
Birthplace diversity index: 60.7
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 56.0%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 18.0%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

20. Washington, District of Columbia

Overall diversity score: 64.6
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 64.7
Birthplace diversity index: 64.5
Most common racial/ethnic group: Black
Percentage of residents born in state: 37.4%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 14.7%
Most common foreign country of origin: El Salvador

19. Phoenix, Arizona

Overall diversity score: 64.9
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 63.4
Birthplace diversity index: 66.4
Most common racial/ethnic group: Hispanic or Latino
Percentage of residents born in state: 42.8%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 19.3%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

18. Long Beach, California

Overall diversity score: 65.6
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 70.1
Birthplace diversity index: 61.1
Most common racial/ethnic group: Hispanic or Latino
Percentage of residents born in state: 57.9%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 25.4%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

17. Dallas, Texas

Overall diversity score: 65.8
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 68.5
Birthplace diversity index: 63.0
Most common racial/ethnic group: Hispanic or Latino
Percentage of residents born in state: 54.3%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 24.9%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

16. Chicago, Illinois
Overall diversity score: 65.8
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 71.7
Birthplace diversity index: 59.9
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 59.5%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 20.8%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

15. Honolulu, Hawaii

Overall diversity score: 66.0
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 65.3
Birthplace diversity index: 66.7
Most common racial/ethnic group: Asian
Percentage of residents born in state: 48.4%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 27.5%
Most common foreign country of origin: Philippines

14. Las Vegas, Nevada

Overall diversity score: 66.5
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 67.6
Birthplace diversity index: 65.3
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 25.6%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 21.8%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

13. Houston, Texas

Overall diversity score: 66.8
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 68.5
Birthplace diversity index: 65.2
Most common racial/ethnic group: Hispanic or Latino
Percentage of residents born in state: 52.4%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 29.1%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

12. Charlotte, North Carolina

Overall diversity score: 67.0
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 68.3
Birthplace diversity index: 65.7
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 41.2%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 17.1%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

11. Los Angeles, California

Overall diversity score: 67.8
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 66.0
Birthplace diversity index: 69.6
Most common racial/ethnic group: Hispanic or Latino
Percentage of residents born in state: 46.8%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 36.9%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

10. Tampa, Florida

Overall diversity score: 67.9
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 67.9
Birthplace diversity index: 68.0
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 41.0%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 17.7%
Most common foreign country of origin: Cuba

9. Sacramento, California

Overall diversity score: 68.0
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 76.4
Birthplace diversity index: 59.6
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 59.9%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 22.3%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

8. Arlington, Texas

Overall diversity score: 68.2
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 71.2
Birthplace diversity index: 65.3
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 52.2%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 22.7%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

7. Aurora, Colorado

Overall diversity score: 69.5
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 69.3
Birthplace diversity index: 69.7
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 40.0%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 22.9%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

6. San Diego, California

Overall diversity score: 69.5
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 69.5
Birthplace diversity index: 69.5
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 46.4%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 25.9%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

5. San Jose, California

Overall diversity score: 69.8
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 70.3
Birthplace diversity index: 69.2
Most common racial/ethnic group: Asian
Percentage of residents born in state: 46.6%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 40.3%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

4. San Francisco, California

Overall diversity score: 71.4
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 69.3
Birthplace diversity index: 73.4
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 38.9%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 35.6%
Most common foreign country of origin: China, excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan

3. Boston, Massachusetts

Overall diversity score: 71.6
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 70.2
Birthplace diversity index: 73.1
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 43.3%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 29.3%
Most common foreign country of origin: Dominican Republic

2. Oakland, California

Overall diversity score: 72.4
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 76.7
Birthplace diversity index: 68.0
Most common racial/ethnic group: Hispanic or Latino
Percentage of residents born in state: 49.5%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 28.1%
Most common foreign country of origin: Mexico

1. New York, New York

Overall diversity score: 72.5
Racial/ethnic diversity index: 74.6
Birthplace diversity index: 70.4
Most common racial/ethnic group: White
Percentage of residents born in state: 48.4%
Percentage of residents foreign born: 37.1%
Most common foreign country of origin: Dominican Republic

Methodology & full results

Current racial/ethnicity and birthplace statistics are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Historical racial/ethnicity statistics come from the 2005 – 2016 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Projected racial/ethnicity statistics are sourced from Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projection tables.

For each city, an overall diversity score was calculated using the average of two diversity indexes, one measuring racial/ethnic diversity and one measuring birthplace diversity of both the native-born and foreign-born population. Each of these diversity indexes is a Simpson Diversity Index that can be interpreted as the probability that any resident of a city chosen at random will belong to separate racial/ethnic or birthplace groups.

The categories used in the racial/ethnic diversity index are:

  • Non-hispanic White alone
  • Non-hispanic Black or African American alone
  • Non-hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native alone
  • Non-hispanic Asian alone
  • Non-hispanic Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone
  • Non-hispanic Some other race alone
  • Non-hispanic Two or more races
  • Hispanic or Latino

The categories used in the birthplace index are:

  • Born in state of residence
  • Born out of state
  • Foreign born – Europe
  • Foreign born – Asia
  • Foreign born – Africa
  • Foreign born – Oceania
  • Foreign born – Latin America
  • Foreign born – Northern America

Cites were grouped into the following categories based on population size:

  • Large: Cities with more than 350,000 people
  • Midsize: Cities with 150,000 – 350,000 people
  • Small: Cities with 100,000 – 150,000 people

This article first appeared on Heytutor.com.