From 1970 to 2015, the percentage of nonwhite Atlanta residents has doubled from 22.2 percent to 44.2 percent of the total population, according to a new study from Georgia State University.
Some of the largest gains are seen in the Hispanic community and Asian community. In 1970, only 1 percent of the total population was Hispanic, but now they make up more than 10 percent of the population. Meanwhile, Atlanta residents of Asian descent have increased from less than 1 percent to more than 5 percent of the total Atlanta population.
While the study found that there are areas of concentration throughout Atlanta for each group, overall segregation has decreased over the past 45 years. The study looked at the white and nonwhite population and created a Segregation Index, which measures the percentage of whites or nonwhites that would have to move to another subarea in order for the groups to be fully integrated.
In the Atlanta Regional Commission region, the segregation index decreased from 77.4 percent to 46.9 percent. For the Atlanta MSA, segregation decreased from 68.8 to 48.3 percent. The state of Georgia saw smaller progress, with the segregation index decreasing from 54.2 percent to 46.4 percent.
“The racial composition has changed so dramatically — it’s really stark,” said David Sjoquist, professor of economics at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. “I don’t think people recognize how that diversity is spread out across the metro area.”
The Atlanta MSA in 1970 had a population of 1,387,865 and included five counties – Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. In 2015, the MSA has increased to include 29 counties and a population of 5,710,795.