Urban Vitality, Diversity, and Culture: Population Growth and Ethnic Change in Philadelphia: 1990-2000

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Culture Builds Community
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Urban Studies and Planning
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This paper uses the early release of 2000 census data to get a glimpse of demographic changes in the city of Philadelphia during the 1990s. Unlike New York and Chicago, Philadelphia continued to lose population during the 1990s, a four percent decline. However, without an influx of immigrants—the city’s Hispanic population grew by 45,000 and its Asian population by 25,000—the decline would have been more than twice as large. The paper focuses on the city and diversity. It first examines the changing ethnic character of Philadelphia during the 1990s and identifies where change was most apparent. It then examines the relationship of population growth to diversity. Finally, it looks at other variables—including poverty status and cultural participation rate—in order to account for the variations in population change found in the city. The paper concludes that, although early findings await further analysis, the data suggest that diversity and culture will be an important part of the story of urban vitality in the coming years.

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The early 2000 census files gave a first glimpse of social and economic changes that shaped the U.S. during the 1990s and, notably, marked significant continuities and departures with respect to the demographic history of American cities. SIAP's Culture Builds Communities inquiry was undertaken from 1996 to 2001 with support by the William Penn Foundation.
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