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U.S. 2010

For sixty years, the Russell Sage Foundation has produced authoritative research on trends and changes in U.S. society using information from the decennial census. U.S. 2010: America After the First Decade of the New Century continued this tradition by reporting on key social and economic trends during the previous decade. Between 2000 and 2010, the United States experienced dramatic political, social, and economic changes and events. From two wars abroad during the course of the decade, to the "Great Recession" and the election of the country's first African-American president, the first ten years of the twenty-first century provide an interesting barometer of prior trends and future directions.

Project Description

Launched in 2009 with a grant of over $1.2 million to Professor John Logan of Brown University, the U.S. 2010 project is an investigation of the subtle shifts and long-term trends in American life and an analysis of what these developments may mean for the future. Based on the decennial census, the American Community Survey, and other key data sources, the findings from U.S. 2010 will serve as a point of reference for policymakers, journalists, and researchers seeking the clearest possible view of the current state of the nation.


Over a two-year span, 14 research teams from universities across the United States will release short briefs and a chapter-length report on their areas, which include immigration, segregation, economics, education, aging, and the changing American family.

Completed research briefs will become available beginning in late 2010 through mid-2011, with completed book chapters to appear as early as 2012. Findings will be disseminated both as published materials and via a map system on the American Communities Project web site. Users will be able to search, sort, and compare data across income groups, geographic locations, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, and much more.

Below is a complete list of topics to be explored for the U.S. 2010 project. Reports will be published here as they are released. Please click on the titles to learn more about the individual projects.

Research Briefs

    Separate but Equal: Asian Nationalities in the U.S.
    John R. Logan and Weiwei Zhang (Brown University)

    Six distinct Asian national origin groups now number more than a million in the United States. This report points out the substantial differences among them and draws out some of their implications. Their share of all immigrants ranges from under half to over three quarters; their share below poverty is as low as 6% and as high as 15%; some are especially concentrated in Los Angeles and others in New York. As the Asian population grows in size and diversity, it becomes less useful to think about Asian Americans as a single category. It is more accurate to study Chinese and Indians, Filipinos and Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese. Doing so leads to two main findings. First, every Asian nationality except Japanese is more segregated from whites than are Asians as a broad category. Second, quite unlike the case of Hispanics and African Americans, Asian national origin groups live in neighborhoods that are generally comparable to those of whites, and in some respects markedly better. The Asian pattern is separate but equal (or even more than equal), raising questions about the prospect or value of their residential assimilation in the future.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class
    Edward N. Wolff (Department of Economics, New York University)

    After rising sharply through 2007, the collapse of the stock market and the sudden collapse in home prices took an immense toll on the assets of the middle class. The most telling finding is that median wealth plummeted over the years 2007 to 2010, and by 2010 was at its lowest level since 1969. Moreover, inequality of net worth, after almost two decades of little movement, rose sharply between 2007 and 2010. Inequalities rose by income class, by race/ethnicity, and across age groups. The middle class benefited from very rapid asset appreciation from 2001 to 2007 (6.0 percent per year). But the steep drop in asset prices during the recession, particularly housing, hit the middle class harder than more affluent Americans and was the main cause of increasing wealth inequality after 2007. Similar trends are found for racial and age inequalities. Blacks and Hispanics increased their net worth relative to whites during 2001-2007 as did young adults in relation to older Americans, mainly because so much of their assets were tied up in home ownership. But these gains were wiped out during the recession.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Hispanics in the United States: Not Only Mexicans
    John R. Logan and Richard N. Turner (Brown University)

    When studies are done of Hispanics, the results mostly reflect the experience of Mexicans who are more than 60% of the total. But observers would be mistaken if they thought they knew Hispanics in the US by looking only at Mexicans. The differences among Hispanic groups are becoming more salient in three ways. First, non-Mexicans are growing fast and are now present in large numbers. Second, some groups are doing a lot better than Mexicans - Puerto Ricans and
    Cubans earn more, Argentinians and Venezuelans earn much more, and South Americans in general have the highest levels of education. Finally, these groups have different levels and trends in separation from non-Hispanics - South Americans, for example are less segregated than Mexicans, while Dominicans and Central Americans are much more segregated.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Great Recession Spurs a Shift to Local Moves
    Michael A. Stoll (Department of Public Policy and Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA)

    In the Great Recession long range moves have declined but there has been a jump in moving locally. In 2010, 9% of Americans moved locally, the highest level in a decade. Meanwhile, less than 2% of Americans moved farther afield, the lowest level in this same period. People moved the most in metropolitan areas with the highest unemployment and the highest foreclosures, areas hard hit by the Great Recession. Black residents were particularly vulnerable. Not only did more black residents, proportionally, lose jobs, those losses were more likely to force black residents to move. Similarly, more black homeowners, proportionally, entered foreclosure, and they were more likely to end up moving than foreclosed whites. Unlike the past decades, when local movers were moving up economically these movers were moving down economically.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Racial and Ethnic Diversity Goes Local: Charting Change in American Communities Over Three Decades
    Barrett A. Lee, John Iceland and Gregory Sharp (Department of Sociology and Population Research Institute, The Pennsylvania State University)

    Increasing diversity has long been apparent at the national level and in our nation's largest metropolitan gateways. Since 1980 over nine-tenths of all cities, suburbs, and small towns have become more diverse. And rural communities are following the lead of their urban counterparts. Places where whites make up 90% or more of the population were two-thirds of the total three decades ago; now they are down to only one-third.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    During the Great Recession, More Young Adults Lived with Parents
    Zhenchao Qian (The Ohio State University)

    Leaving home marks the transition from dependence to autonomy and signals the end of adolescence, but this life change is far from uniform. Some young people quickly and smoothly make the shift; others take more time; still others leave, but later return home. In recent years, the latter two scenarios have become more and more common, due to delays in marriage and most of all, the Great Recession, which has led to economic and personal instability for America's 20-to-34-year-olds.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Home Ownership's Wild Ride, 2001-2011
    Emily Rosenbaum (Fordham University)

    Home ownership is a cornerstone of the American Dream for the economic and social benefits it conveys, but the past decade was a nightmare of foreclosures and inaccessibility for some groups. By 2011, the ownership gaps between black and white households, poor and rich households, less-educated and more-educated households widened considerably compared to the situation a decade earlier. In addition, America's younger generations have had greater financial obstacles to homeownership than did previous generations at the same stage in life: a fate unlikely to change soon.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Growth in the Residential Segregation of Families by Income, 1970-2009
    Sean F. Reardon and Kendra Bischoff (Stanford University)

    As overall income inequality grew in the last four decades, high- and low-income families have become increasingly less likely to live near one another. Mixed income neighborhoods have grown rarer, while affluent and poor neighborhoods have grown much more common. In fact, the share of the population in large and moderate-sized metropolitan areas who live in the poorest and most affluent neighborhoods has more than doubled since 1970, while the share of families living in middle-income neighborhoods dropped from 65 percent to 44 percent.
    The residential isolation of the both poor and affluent families has grown over the last four decades, though affluent families have been generally more residentially isolated than poor families during this period. Income segregation among African Americans and Hispanics grew more rapidly than among non-Hispanic whites, especially since 2000. These trends are consequential because people are affected by the character of the local areas in which they live. The increasing concentration of income and wealth (and resources such as schools, parks, and public services) in a small number of neighborhoods results in greater disadvantages for the remaining neighborhoods where low- and middle-income families live.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Global Neighborhoods: New Evidence from Census 2010
    John R. Logan (Brown University) and Wenquan Zhang (Texas A&M)

    A process of increasing neighborhood diversity that was first identified after the 2000 Census has continued in the last decade. In America's most multi-ethnic metropolitan regions about half of residents now live in global neighborhoods - community areas where whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians are all represented in substantial numbers, more than twice as many as in 1980. The emergence of this kind of neighborhood contributes lowering the residential segregation of minorities. But progress is limited by the persistence of large all-minority areas, the reluctance of whites to move into majority-minority neighborhoods, and white flight from some diverse neighborhoods. In the nation's 20 most multiethnic metropolitan areas, nearly 40 percent of the population now lives in global neighborhoods: up dramatically from less than 25 percent in 1980. But this progress is counterweighted: About half the black residents and 40 percent of Hispanics in these metros still live in all-minority neighborhoods.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Unauthorized Immigrant Parents: Do Their Migration Histories Limit Their Children's Education?
    Mark A. Leach and Jennifer Van Hook (Pennsylvania State University), and Frank D. Bean and Susan K. Brown (University of California, Irvine)

    One of the thorniest issues involving unauthorized immigrants is the situation of their children, the majority of whom are born in the United States. This research focuses on Mexican immigrants, who are a majority of the country's estimated 11 million unauthorized migrants. Leach and his colleagues show that their trajectory of obtaining legal and citizenship status affects their children's educational outcomes, and that the children who get the least schooling are those whose parents, especially their mothers, remain unauthorized. Pathways to legalization thus do matter, not just for the immigrants themselves but also more broadly for the new generation of Mexican American citizens of this country.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Separate and Unequal: The Neighborhood Gap for Blacks, Hispanics and Asians in Metropolitan America
    John Logan (Brown University)

    The most recent census data show that on average, black and Hispanic households live in neighborhoods with more than one and a half times the poverty rate of neighborhoods where the average non-Hispanic white lives. Even Asians, who are less residentially segregated and have higher incomes than blacks and Hispanics, live in somewhat poorer neighborhoods than whites. Findings show that the average black or Hispanic household earning more than $75,000 lives in a poorer neighborhood than the average white resident earning less than $40,000.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    Whose Schools Are Failing?
    John Logan (Brown University)

    Persistent school segregation does not mean just that children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds attend different schools, but that their schools are also unequal in their students' performance. This study documents nationally the extent of disparities in student performance between schools attended by whites and Asians compared to blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. The analysis shows that a focus solely on schools at the bottom of the distribution as in No Child Left Behind would only modestly reduce the wide disparities between groups.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    An Uneven Road, Then a Cliff: U.S. Labor Markets, 2000-10
    Harry J. Holzer and Marek Hlavac (Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University)

    The Great Recession of the past few years follows a complete economic cycle (2000-07) during which employment outcomes improved just barely for most Americans, while actually deteriorating for some. Hourly wages rose modestly but employment rates fell from their peaks in 2000, leading to overall earnings stagnation. Highly educated workers, those with the very highest earnings levels and women gained relatively more than others; less educated, male and/or younger workers fell behind, especially in the Midwest. During the Great Recession unemployment rates have risen most for younger, less educated, and minority workers, especially men. Unemployment durations are very lengthy while labor market recovery is likely to be gradual. Policy responses should help unemployed workers during the short term, while raising worker skills and job quality in the longer term, and providing additional supports for those who will be forced to take low-wage jobs.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    How Changes in Employment, Earnings and Public Transfers Make the First Two Years of the Great Recession (2007-2009) Different from Previous Recessions and Why It Matters for Longer-Term Trends
    Richard V. Burkhauser, (Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University), and Jeff Larrimore (Joint Committee on Taxation)

    What distinguishes the first two years of the Great Recession from earlier recessions (especially the first two years of the double-dip recession of 1979-1983) are employment losses for household heads and their spouses - rather than changes in their wage earnings - which are driving declines in median income and increases in income inequality. Furthermore, increases in unemployment insurance payments and other public transfers have played a much greater role than in the past.
    Read the research brief (PDF)

    The Persistence of Segregation in the Metropolis: New Findings from the 2010 Census
    John R. Logan (Brown University) and Brian J. Stults (Florida State University)

    The 2010 Census offers new information on changes in residential segregation in metropolitan regions across the country as they continue to become more diverse. Since 1980, black-white segregation has continued to reduce slowly, slowly, but the traditional Ghetto Belt cities of the Northeast and Midwest remain extraordinarily segregated. The growth of the Hispanic and Asian populations is creating larger, denser ethnic enclaves around the U.S.
    Read the research brief (PDF)


The Foundation's grant is centered on the U.S. 2010 website, a component of the American Communities Project (ACP). Originally developed for the 2000 Census, the ACP is a web-based research tool that distributes information about demographic changes affecting neighborhoods, cities, and metropolitan areas around the country. It includes studies based on both contemporary and historical U.S. Census data and research on public schools, especially school segregation and racial disparities in educational achievement. Web-based mapping systems provide data for census tracts (Map U.S.A.) and schools (Map U.S. Schools) across the United States. ACP will employ this mapping technology for the Russell Sage-funded U.S. 2010 site. Users will be able to move beyond mere statistics to see, for example, how crime, poverty, public health, and elections are spatially organized and where advantage or disadvantage is concentrated in American communities. ACP is an exciting partner in the U.S. 2010 project and this collaboration will make findings accessible to a wider audience, including scholars, policymakers, the media, and the general public.

Project Architecture

U.S. 2010 preserves the structure of previous RSF census initiatives, but expands their scope in significant ways. The U.S. Census now uses a short, abridged questionnaire--necessitating the use of other data sources for the most complete picture of contemporary American life. The annual American Community Survey (ACS), a separate component of the U.S. Census Program, is likely to become the preeminent source of information on the demographic, social, and ecnomic characteristics of the U.S. population, and will be widely used by U.S. 2010 authors. ACS collects and produces population information every year instead of every ten years. While the U.S. Census is sent to every address in the United States, the more extensive ACS form is mailed to a random sample of the population who answer questions about housing and property, income and employment, education, and race and ethnicity. ACS now provides a more detailed and timely reflection of how Americans actually live and work than does the Census. The authors of the U.S. 2010 publications will explore the decennial census, the American Community Survey, and numerous other relevant data sources to address each topic.

Research findings will be published both as short, descriptive briefs and longer, analytic reports. Briefs will be especially important for addressing timely subject matter and for their appeal to a broader audience. The longer reports will be more scholarly in approach and substance. Where appropriate, report authors will release briefs of especially topical findings, resulting in a high degree of integration between the two types of publications.

Advisory Committee

One of the key elements of all prior RSF Census efforts, and critical to the success of those efforts, has been the establishment of an Advisory Committee. Advisory Committee members are prominent scholars with extensive knowledge of the census and other national data sets as well as the issues and trends of greatest importance in American society. The members of the U.S. 2010 Advisory Committee reflect a wide array of academic disciplines and interests:

  • Margo Anderson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (History)
  • Suzanne Bianchi, University of California, Los Angeles (Sociology/Demography)
  • Barry Bluestone, Northeastern University (Economics)
  • Sheldon Danziger, University of Michigan (Economics)
  • Claude Fischer, University of California-Berkeley (Sociology)
  • Daniel Lichter, Cornell University (Demography)
  • Kenneth Prewitt, Columbia University (Political Science) and former Director, U.S. Census Bureau

The committee is integral to identifying, recruiting, and selecting authors with the expertise to advance social science knowledge in each topic area. Committee members also work with authors throughout the process to produce a final report. Final manuscripts are subject to a thorough internal and external review process. The U.S. 2010 project comprises fourteen reports in twelve topic areas, which range in focus from trends in wealth inequality and racial segregation to the changing structure of the American family.


The Russell Sage Foundation has analyzed and published its findings on the decennial census since 1950 when the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) initiated the Committee on Census Monographs, which was supported by an award from RSF. Seventeen volumes were published between 1955 and 1958. Many continue to be recognized as definitive works describing demographic and social trends in the first half of the twentieth century. The SSRC/RSF partnership continued to conduct census research for the next fifty years. In 2000, the Russell Sage Foundation partnered with the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) to produce The American People: Census 2000, edited by Reynolds Farley (University of Michigan) and John Haaga (PRB). The Foundation also supported several other census-based books reflecting on the import of the new millennium and the evolution of American society, including Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years (2006) by Claude Fischer and Michael Hout (both of University of California, Berkeley) and One Nation Divisible: What America Was and What it is Becoming (2006) by Michael Katz and Mark Stern (both of the University of Pennsylvania).