Residential settlement patterns by race and ethnicity

Creation Year
Friday, January 1, 2016 - 12:00
Year of most recent data
Friday, January 1, 2016 - 12:00

Alan Grigsby,, University of Cincinnati, Sociology

Learning Goals


  1. Observe 2010 residential settlement patterns;
  2. Discover how the present‐day US population is distributed across various, census categories;
  3. Specifically, we will determine what percent of Americans live in suburbs,
  4. What percentage of racial minorities now reside in suburbs/city, and to see whether the social characteristics of people who live in cities, suburbs andnon‐metro areas differ.


Methodological/Quantitative Skills

  1. Use software to access and analyze census data
  2. Create and read frequency tables
  3. Create and interpret bivariate tables/cross-tabs
  4. Quantitative reasoning
  5. Quantitative writing
  6. Identifying population trends over time

Essay on suburban change that discusses the findings from lab in connection with class material (lectures and readings).

In class, we discussed the US Census definitions of metropolitan areas—including urban and suburban areas. We also discussed a brief history of urban inequality to help frame our understanding of the urban landscape in America. In this assignment you will analyze 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) data and take note of various trends. After we complete this lab, we will compare historical patterns with the recent trends in suburbanization. 

Teaching Notes and Tips

The quantitative reasoning (QR) activities noted in this module are accessible through the SSDAN data web-tool ( These could potentially stand alone in non-urban sociology classes. I recommend using class time to complete and discuss the following exercises, taking a separate day to teach quantitative writing, and giving student as many attempts as possible to revise their written assessment.

In order for students to complete a written assessment (essay) on this topic, instructors will need to give historical overviews of urban growth/change, residential segregation, and suburbanization. I typically lecture and assign readings on these topics, but there are also some multimedia resources, including videos, that can supplement lectures and readings for instructors wishing to adopt this for an urban course.

References and Resources

PBS documentary RACE: The Power of an Illusion, episode III “The House We Live In”

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