The Houston metropolitan area is now the most ethnically diverse large metropolitan area in the country, with two suburbs – Pearland and Missouri City – leading the region in diversity.
The findings come from a new report from Rice University based on an analysis of census data from 1990, 2000 and 2010.
Report co-author Michael Emerson, a sociologist and co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice, attributed the growth in diversity to a 1965 shift in immigration laws, which changed the way visas were granted.
Before that change, immigration was dominated by people from Europe. Once the United States began granting equal numbers of visas to every country, immigrants from Latin America, Asia and Africa became dominant.
The report found that Pearland and Missouri City have surpassed Houston as the most diverse in the region.
The report produced by the Kinder Institute and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas also found:
The city of Houston remained more segregated than other areas of the metropolitan area.
Segregation among African-Americans and Latinos has declined the most rapidly.
According to the analysis, the percentage of metropolitan area residents who are Anglo dropped to 40 percent by 2010, down from almost 58 percent in 1990.
Anglos make up 48.9 percent of the population in New York.
The percentage of Latinos in the Houston area increased to about 40 percent by 2010, up from 20 percent in 1990. The report says that Latinos will become the region’s largest ethnic group within a few years.
The percentage of Asians has almost doubled over the past 20 years to 6.5 percent, up from 3.4 percent in 1990.
The percentage of African-Americans has barely budged – 16.8 percent in 2010, down slightly from 17.5 percent in 1990.
Within the five-county area – Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, and Montgomery – Fort Bend County is the most diverse, according to the report. Montgomery County is the least diverse with Anglos accounting for 71 percent of residents.