Diversity is key to Houston’s identity. It’s a point of pride — and a selling point — that the Bayou City is the most diverse city in the United States. But a new study claims Houston’s been dethroned, demographics wise.
Jersey City’s been declared The Most Diverse City in America in WalletHub’s new rankings.
But there’s no need to panic. The disparity in scores was tiny, with Jersey City earning a 71.51 total score and Houston coming in within a hair of winning with a 71.49 score. Major categories included socioeconomic diversity, cultural diversity, economy diversity, household diversity and religious diversity.
So does Wallethub’s .02-point deficit mean that Jersey City is more diverse than Houston? Not so fast according to the preeminent expert in the field.
“It does seem as if Houston continues to be ranked as the most diverse large city, while Jersey City as the most diverse of the midsize cities,” sociologist and demographics expert Stephen Klineberg tells PaperCity.
The new rankings don’t make a breakdown on city size — a huge factor. And let’s just say Klineberg carries a lot more clout than WalletHub.
PaperCity sat down with the founding director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the think tank affiliated with Rice University, to learn how Houston truly stacks up. He finds the Wallethub study has “interesting but somewhat confusing compilations.”
The site’s analysis utilized the Herfindahl-Hisrchman Index method. Klineberg and Kinder’s methodology is decidedly different.
“The basis for our claim that Houston is the most ethnically diverse is how close the population comes to one-fourth Asian, one-fourth Latino, one-fourth African American and one-fourth Anglo,” Klineberg says.
Fort Bend County is the most ethnically diverse county in the country, according to the Kinder metrics. At 20 percent Asian, 24 percent Latino, 22 percent African American and 34 percent Anglo, Fort Bend is the most even split of any American county.
“You don’t get much closer to one- fourth, one-fourth, one-fourth, one-fourth than that,” Klineberg says. “I think it is probably more diverse today than it will ever be again.”
Those statistics are remarkable in and of themselves. But they’re also prophetic. Fast-forward to 2050, and this is the mix you’ll see across the country.
“Houston is where all of America is going to be in about 25 years. All of America will look like Houston looks today,” Klineberg forecasts. “That’s the big story here.
“We’re in the midst of a truly epic transition. The country — throughout all of its history, it was an amalgam of European nationalities — is now becoming a microcosm of the world.”
Nothing will stop Houston and America from becoming more African, more Asian, and more Latino than Anglo, Klineberg says. It’s not just about numbers but about ages. In Houston, Anglos are the minority, except for baby boomers aged 63 and up.
“This is a done deal. There’s no conceivable force in the world that is going to stop Houston, stop Texas, stop America from becoming more Asian, African and Latino,” Klineberg says.
The Kinder Institute tracks attitudes and perceptions of this demographic revolution through its annual Kinder Institute Houston Area Survey. Questions like “Do you think increasing ethnic diversity in Houston will be a source of great strength or a growing problem?” gauge Houstonians’ impressions about ethnic diversity.
“Every question like that shows increasingly positive attitudes toward diversity. That has come from a gradual process,” Klineberg notes. Houston is the blueprint for the rest of the U.S., and Houstonians are proud of that — more and more so, all the time.
“We will be the first nation that can say ‘We are a free people and we come from everywhere.,’ ” Klineberg says.
Now, that’s a real win worth celebrating.