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THE 2006 HOUSTON AREA SURVEY: The Latest Findings in the Context of a Quarter-Century of Houston Surveys STEPHEN L. KLINEBERG AMI Community Leadership.

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Presentation on theme: "THE 2006 HOUSTON AREA SURVEY: The Latest Findings in the Context of a Quarter-Century of Houston Surveys STEPHEN L. KLINEBERG AMI Community Leadership."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE 2006 HOUSTON AREA SURVEY: The Latest Findings in the Context of a Quarter-Century of Houston Surveys STEPHEN L. KLINEBERG AMI Community Leadership Forum 22 April 2006

2  Supported by a consortium of foundations, corporations, and individuals, the HAS has conducted random-digit- dialed interviews, in English and Spanish, with 25 succes- sive representative samples of Harris-County residents.  No other city in America has been the focus of a long-term study of this scope. None more clearly exemplifies the na- tion’s ongoing economic and demographic transformations.  In 14 of the past 16 years, the surveys were expanded to reach at least 450 Anglos, 450 Blacks, and 450 Hispanics.  In 1995 and 2002, the research included multi-lingual inter- views with large representative samples from Houston’s Asian communities, the only such surveys in the country. THE HOUSTON AREA SURVEY (1982–2006)

3  In May 1982, two months after the first survey in this series, Houston’s oil boom suddenly collapsed.  The region recovered from deep recession in the mid 1980s to find itself in the midst of: A restructured economy, and A demographic revolution.  Using identical questions across the years, the surveys have tracked area residents’ experiences and attitudes regarding many aspects of these remarkable trends.  How the city ultimately responds to the challenges these transformations represent will be significant not only for the Houston future, but for the American future as well. AN OVERVIEW OF THE PAST 25 YEARS

4 FIGURE 1: PERCENT RATING JOB OPPORTUNI- TIES AS “EXCELLENT” OR “GOOD” ( )

5 THE RESTRUCTURED ECONOMY  The “resource economy” of the Industrial Age has now receded into history, replaced by a fully global and increasingly high-tech “knowledge economy.”  The “blue collar path” to financial security has largely disappeared. The good-paying jobs today require high levels of technical skills and educational credentials.  In 2005, 64 percent agreed that “there are very few good jobs in today’s economy for people without a college education.” In 2006, 78 percent disagreed that “a high school education is enough to get a good job.”  From now on, as the saying goes, “What you earn depends on what you’ve learned.”

6 RESULT #1: AN “HOURGLASS” ECONOMY In the new knowledge-based, two-tiered economy... Poverty increases, even as the city grows richer. Opportunities narrow for many, while they expand for others. Income inequalities grow ever wider and deeper.

7  The source of wealth today has less to do with control over natural resources and more to do with human resources.  A city’s well-being will increasingly depend upon its ability to nurture, attract, and retain the nation’s most skilled and creative “knowledge workers” and high-tech companies.  Houston’s prosperity in the new economy will be determined in part by the city’s ability to develop into a more environ- mentally and aesthetically appealing urban destination.  This will require major continuing improvements in mobility; downtown revitalization; air and water quality; the venues for sports, arts, and culture; the abundance of parks, trees, and bayous; the protection of hiking, boating and birding areas. RESULT #2: THE NEW IMPORTANCE OF “QUALITY-OF-PLACE” CONSIDERATIONS

8 FIGURE 2: THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THE HOUSTON AREA TODAY ( )

9 FIGURE 3: THE IMPORTANCE OF A MUCH IMPROVED MASS TRANSIT SYSTEM AND OF INCLUDING A RAIL COMPONENT ( )

10 FIGURE 4: SUPPORT FOR THE DEATH PEN- ALTY VS. LIFE IMPRISONMENT ( )

11  Between 1492 and 1965, 82 percent of all the human beings who came to these shores came from Europe.  Under the notorious 1924 “National Origins Quota Act,” immigration was dramatically reduced, and the newcomers were restricted almost exclusively to Northern Europeans.  In 1965, the “Hart-Celler Act” greatly increased the numbers of immigrants once again, and established new preferences based primarily on family reunification and professional skills.  As a result, new immigrant streams — non-European and of striking socioeconomic diversity — are rapidly transforming the composition of the Houston, and American, populations. U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY BEFORE AND AFTER THE REFORM ACT OF 1965

12 FIGURE 5: THE NUMBERS OF DOCUMENTED U.S. IMMIGRANTS, BY DECADE ( ) Source: U.S. Census (www.census.gov).

13 THE DEMOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION  Along with the major immigration capitals of L.A. and N.Y., closely following upon Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago, Houston is at the forefront of the new ethnicity that is re- fashioning the socio-political landscape of urban America.  Throughout all of its history... Houston was essentially a bi-racial Southern city, Dominated and controlled, in a taken-for-granted way, by white men.  Today... This is one of the most culturally diverse metropolitan areas in the country. All of Houston’s ethnic communities are now “minorities.”

14 FIGURE 6: THE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSFOR- MATIONS OF HARRIS COUNTY ( ) Source: U.S. Census (www.census.gov); classifications based on Texas State Data Center conventions; total populations are given in parentheses.www.census.gov

15 INTERACTIONS OF ETHNICITY AND AGE  Two ongoing revolutions: The “aging” and the “colorizing,” a.k.a. the “graying” and the “browning,” of America.  Today’s seniors are primarily Anglos, and so are the 76 million babies born between 1946 and 1964, now 41 to 59. In the next 30 years, the numbers aged 65+ will double.  The younger populations who will replace them are dispro- portionately non-Anglo and considerably less privileged.  The “aging of America” is thus as much a division along ethnic lines as it is along generational lines.  Nowhere is this transformation more clearly seen than in the Houston area.

16 FIGURE 7: THE PROPORTIONS IN FOUR AGE GROUPS WHO ARE ANGLO, BLACK, HISPAN- IC, AND ASIAN OR OTHER ( )6

17 FIGURE 8: EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT IN FIVE HOUSTON COMMUNITIES ( )

18 FIGURE 9: EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT IN FOUR ASIAN COMMUNITIES (1995, 2002)

19 FIGURE 10: BELIEFS ABOUT ABORTION AND HOMOSEXUALITY ( )

20 FIGURE 11: ADDITIONAL MEASURES OF SUPPORT FOR GAY RIGHTS ( )

21 FIGURE 12: POSITIVE RATINGS OF THE RELATIONS AMONG ETHNIC GROUPS IN THE HOUSTON AREA ( )

22 FIGURE 13: ATTITUDES TOWARD THE NEW IMMIGRATION (1994–2006)

23 FIGURE 14: PERSPECTIVES ON THE AMERICAN FUTURE ( )

24 FIGURE 15: INTERETHNIC DIFFERENCES IN BELIEFS ABOUT EQUALITY OF OPPORTU- NITY IN AMERICAN SOCIETY (HAS, 2006)

25  On September 1, 2005, thousands of evacuees began arriving by bus into the Reliant Complex and the GRB. Some 60,000 ordinary Houstonians came out to help, giving unexpected evidence of civic engagement in a city where measures of community connectedness (“social capital”) are generally low.  On January 1, the Dallas Morning News, despite time-honored rivalries, chose the city of Houston as its “Texan of the Year.”  By mid-October, concerns were mounting about the impact of the evacuees on schools, hospitals, and crime. Additional migrants were coming from other cities to benefit from Hous- ton’s generosity, and most of the “guests,” particularly those in greatest need, were showing little interest in going home. KATRINA IN TWO PHASES: FROM CIVIC PRIDE TO “COMPASSION FATIGUE”?

26 FIGURE 16: PERCEPTIONS OF THE EFFECTS ON HOUSTON OF THE EVACUEES (HAS, 2006)

27 FIGURE 17: REPORTED INTERACTIONS WITH THE KATRINA EVACUEES (HAS, 2006)

28 FIGURE 18: SUMMARY ASSESSMENTS OF THE IMPACT OF THE KATRINA EXPERIENCE (2006)

29 CAN KATRINA’S CIVIC ENERGY BE RECAPTURED TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES THAT LIE AHEAD?  This city and nation will need to nurture a far more educated workforce and develop effective policies to reduce the growing inequalities and prevent a new urban underclass.  In order to attract the nation’s most innovative companies and the most talented individuals, Houston must continue to make progress in becoming a considerably more environ- mentally and aesthetically appealing urban destination.  If the region is to flourish in the new century, it will need to develop into a much more inclusive and unified multiethnic society, one with true equality of opportunity, where all can participate as full partners in shaping the Houston future.

30 Professor Stephen L. Klineberg Department of Sociology, MS-28 Rice University, P. O. Box 1892 Houston, Texas Telephone: or address: Web: For additional copies of the 2005 report, call: CONTACT INFORMATION


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