As the Greater Houston area’s ethnic makeup changes, so have residents’ attitudes toward diversity and the relationships between different groups. The 2017 Kinder Houston Area Survey, produced by Rice University’s Kinder Institute of Urban Research, found that as the Anglo population declined nationwide, growth in Houston since the 1980s came not from Anglos but from influxes of African Americans and Latinos.
“Just imagine how different the story of Houston would have been had we not one of the great magnets of new immigration in the last 30 years?” Rice University sociologist Steven Klineberg said Thursday at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce in Sugar Land. “This city would have lost population.”
Using a random sample of 1,629 respondents from Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, the 36-year survey asked questions regarding residents’ races, opinions on immigration, their educational attainment, their preference for walkable communities and fear of crime.
Klineberg presented the results Thursday in what he said continues to be the most diverse county in America: Fort Bend County. It is the closest county on record to having an equal number of the four major ethnic groups, he said.
“Fort Bend County today is 20 percent Asian, 24 percent Latino, 21 percent African American, 34 percent Anglo,” he said.
Results from the survey indicated that perceptions of immigration and interracial relationships changed as residents aged. Although 65 percent of people in Harris County from 2016-2017 felt that immigration strengthens American culture rather than hurts it, between 2011 and 2017, 67 percent of Harris County millennials — aged 25-35 — felt this way compared to 45 percent of baby boomers — aged 53-71.
After more than three decades of sharing the survey’s results, Klineberg said he hopes they can be a catalyst for informed decision-making in the Greater Houston area. He said more needs to be done academically to prepare a growing workforce.
“Universal preschool, after-school and summer school programs,” he said. “All the jobs require education after high school.”
For the formal 2017 survey results, go to the Kinder Institute For Urban Research’s website.