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Many L.A. Latinos live in neighborhoods with few whites, study says

March 19, 2013 |  9:01 pm

Many Latinos in the Los Angeles area continue to live in ethnic enclaves with few whites as neighbors, according to a study by Brown University researchers.

Latinos in other metropolitan areas are more likely than Southern California Latinos to live in integrated neighborhoods. Nationwide, residential integration has increased significantly in the last decade for Puerto Ricans and South Americans, with lesser increases for Cubans, Central Americans and Mexicans.

The study by John Logan and Richard Turner, called “Hispanics in America: Not Only Mexicans,” used census data to track Latino populations from 1990 to 2010.

For Latinos in Southern California, it is easy to find clusters of fellow Mexicans, Salvadorans or Guatemalans. The Los Angeles area continues to lead the nation in residents of Mexican and Central American origin, though its relative share of those ethnic groups has declined.

In the 1990 census, 19% of respondents of Mexican origin lived in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area. In 2010, the number of Los Angeles-area Mexicans had increased from 2.5 million to 3.5 million, but they represented only 11% of the nationwide total.

In 2010, according to the study, the average Los Angeles-area resident of Mexican origin lived in a neighborhood that was 18% white, compared to a national metropolitan average of 35% white. The average Los Angeles-area Central American also lived in a predominantly Latino neighborhood with about 16% white residents.

The degree of ethnic isolation among Latinos in Los Angeles is seen in only one other city, Logan said: New York.

The Latino population is increasingly spread out across the country, and more Latinos have settled in smaller metropolitan areas. But Los Angeles and New York remain magnets for newcomers, who tend to stick with others from the same country. Low incomes and racial discrimination could also be factors, Logan said.

“It’s a good thing to the extent it means that Hispanics are finding livable communities where they can forge strong networks with other people from the same background,” said Logan, a professor of sociology at Brown. “But to the extent that they are living in areas with poorer schools and less chance for jobs and mobility, it can suggest some real future problems for the region.”

The report shows that Los Angeles-area Latinos, as a group, have lower incomes and education levels than whites.

In 2010, the average income was $52,157 for Mexicans in Los Angeles, $45,879 for Guatemalans and $81,660 for whites, according to the report. Eighteen percent of Latinos in the area have college degrees, compared with 43% of whites.

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