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Popul Bull. 1982 Dec;37(4):1-39.

Black America in the 1980s.



This Bulletin reviews recent demographic and socioeconomic trends in the US black population in order to assess changes in the status of blacks relative to whites since publication of the 1962 edition of Gunnar Myrdal's 1944 classic "An American Dilemma." Blacks numbered 26.5 million in 1980, 11.7% of the total population, with 85% residing in urban areas compared to 71% of whites. Some suburbanization is now occurring among blacks but the majority remain segregated in central cities. In the 1970s, more blacks moved into the South than moved out in a reversal of the historic pattern. Blacks have shared the baby bust since the mid-1960s but teenage and out-of-wedlock fertility remain much higher than for whites as well as overall fertility (2.3 compared to 1.8 births/woman in 1979). Black infant mortality is still double that of whites and life expectancy is 6 years shorter (68.3 vs. 74.4 years in 1979). Single parents (mostly mothers) with children now comprise 31% of black families compared to 10% for the general population. Divorce and separation have risen faster for blacks than whites. Many of these gaps are related to blacks' continuing socioeconomic disadvantages: median family income is 56% that of whites; the poverty rate is 3.5 times higher; unemployment is twice as high. Occupational status has improved for blacks and their educational attainment is now close to that of whites, but these gains may be slowed and income differentials unimproved if the current administration's reversal of socioeconomic policy remains unchanged. Blacks are also affected more than other groups by the recent surge in immigrants who compete directly for the low-level jobs on which many blacks must still rely. (author's).

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