The traditional “blue collar path” to financial security has
largely disappeared. Most good-paying jobs today require
high levels of technical skills and educational credentials.
In the 2006 survey, 77% disagreed that “a high school
education is enough to get a good job.” In 2007, 61% of
area residents agreed that “there are very few good jobs in
today’s economy for people without a college education.”
In the new, increasingly unequal, knowledge-based econ-
omy, “What you earn depends on what you have learned.”
FIGURE 3: CONCERNS ABOUT HEALTH CARE, POVERTY, AND INEQUALITY (1997-2007)
FIGURE 4: CHANGES IN TWO MEASURES OF THE WORK ETHIC (1982-2007)
Houston's prospects will now increasingly depend on the
city’s ability to attract and retain the nation’s most skilled and
creative “knowledge workers” and high-tech companies.
This will require significant and sustained improvements in . . .
the region’s mobility and traffic congestion
the revitalization and preservation of downtown areas
the variety of its venues for sports, arts, and culture
the enhancement of its parks, trees, and bayous
the richness of its hiking, boating, and birding areas
the quality of its air and water
THE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGE
The public’s support for new initiatives along these lines has
grown continuously and significantly across the years.
FIGURE 5: AIR POLLUTION CONCERNS IN THE HOUSTON AREA (1995-2007)
FIGURE 6: ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS AND TRADEOFFS (THE 2007 SURVEY)
FIGURE 7: “WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THE HOUSTON AREA TODAY?” (1982-2007)
FIGURE 8: RATINGS OF THE HOUSTON AREA IN GENERAL AS A PLACE TO LIVE (2005, 2007)
FIGURE 9: ASSESSMENTS OF TRAFFIC IN THE HOUSTON AREA AND OF THREE POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS (2003, 2005, 2007)
FIGURE 10: “HOW WORRIED ARE YOU THAT YOU OR A FAMILY MEMBER WILL BECOME THE VICTIM OF A CRIME?” (1995-2007)
FIGURE 11: SUPPORT FOR ALTERNATIVES TO THE DEATH PENALTY (1999-2007)
FIGURE 12: THE IMPORTANCE OF DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT, BY HOME ZIP CODE (1995-2007)
FIGURE 13: PERCENT OF ANGLOS “VERY IN-TERESTED” IN MOVING FROM SUBURBS TO CITY AND FROM CITY TO SUBURBS (1999-2007)
FIGURE 14: ASSESSMENTS OF POPULATION GROWTH AND URBAN PLANNING (2007 SURVEY)
THE DEMOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION
Along with the major immigration capitals of L.A. and N.Y.,
closely following upon Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago,
Houston is at the forefront of the new ethnic diversity that is
refashioning the socio-political landscape of urban America.
Throughout all of its history . . .
this was essentially a bi-racial Southern city,
dominated and controlled, in an automatic, taken-
for-granted way, by white men.
Today . . .
Houston is one of the most culturally diverse metro-politan areas in the country, and
all of its ethnic communities are now “minorities.”
FIGURE 15 : THE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSFOR-MATIONS OF HARRIS COUNTY (1960-2005) Source: U.S. Census ( www.census.gov ); classifications based on Texas State Data Center conventions; total populations are given in parentheses; *from the 2005 American Community Study, households only.
INTERACTIONS OF ETHNICITY AND AGE
The other demographic revolution: the remarkable “aging,”
or “graying,” of the American population.
Today’s seniors are primarily Anglos, as are the 76 million
Americans born between 1946 and 1964, now aged 42 to 60.
In the next 30 years , the numbers over age 65 will double.
The younger populations who will replace the “baby boom”
are disproportionately non-Anglo and far less privileged.
The “aging of America” is thus almost as much a division
along economic and ethnic lines as along generational lines.
Nowhere is this ongoing transformation more clearly seen
than in the age distributions of the Harris County population.
FIGURE 16: THE PROPORTIONS IN FOUR AGE GROUPS WHO ARE ANGLO, BLACK, LATINO, AND ASIAN OR OTHER (2002-2006, COMBINED)
FIGURE 17: EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT IN FIVE HOUSTON COMMUNITIES (1994-2006)
FIGURE 18: POSITIVE RATINGS OVER THE YEARS OF “THE RELATIONS AMONG ETHNIC GROUPS IN THE HOUSTON AREA” (1992-2007)
FIGURE 20: CHANGING PERSPECTIVES ON THE NEW IMMIGRATION (1995–2007)
FIGURE 21: ATTITUDES TOWARD “ILLEGAL” IMMIGRATION (FROM THE 2007 SURVEY)
FIGURE 22: PERSPECTIVES ON ABORTION RIGHTS (HOUSTON AREA SURVEY, 1990-2007)
FIGURE 23: PERSPECTIVES ON HOMOSEXU-ALITY (HOUSTON AREA SURVEY, 1991-2007)
FIGURE 24: ATTITUDES TOWARD OTHER “SOCIAL AGENDA” ISSUES (THE 2007 SURVEY)
FIGURE 25: PERSPECTIVES ON MENTAL ILLNESS (FROM THE 2004 AND 2007 SURVEYS)
FIGURE 26: INTERETHNIC DIFFERENCES IN BELIEFS ABOUT EQUALITY OF OPPORTU-NITY IN AMERICAN SOCIETY TODAY (2006)
FIGURE 27: CHANGING PERSPECTIVES ON THE AMERICAN FUTURE (1988-2007)
FIGURE 28: PARTY PREFERENCES AMONG HARRIS COUNTY RESIDENTS (1988-2007)
On 29 September 2005, thousands of hurricane evacuees
began arriving at the Reliant Complex and the GRB. Some
60,000 Houstonians came out to help, providing unexpected
evidence of civic engagement in a city where measures of
community connectedness (“social capital”) are generally low.
There were unusually favorable stories in the national media;
and in January 2006, The Dallas Morning News , despite time-
honored rivalries, named Houston as the “Texan of the Year.”
But by mid October, concerns were already rapidly mounting,
primarily with regard to the strain on public services (on area
schools, hospitals, and the criminal justice system); and most
of the newcomers were showing little interest in going home.
KATRINA IN TWO PHASES: FROM CIVIC PRIDE TO “COMPASSION FATIGUE”?
FIGURE 29: PERCEPTIONS OF THE EFFECTS ON HOUSTON OF THE EVACUEES (HAS, 2006)
FIGURE 30: SUMMARY ASSESSMENTS OF THE KATRINA EXPERIENCE (2006-2007)
CAN THE CIVIC ENERGY MOBILIZED BY KATRINA BE RECAPTURED TO MEET HOUSTON’S CENTRAL CHALLENGES?
This city and nation will need to nurture a far more educated
workforce, and fashion policies that can reduce the growing
inequalities and prevent the rise of a new urban underclass.
To attract the most innovative companies and talented indi-
viduals, Houston will need to become a more environmen-
tally appealing urban destination, and develop the research
centers that will fuel the new engines of economic growth.
If the region is to flourish in the 21st century, it will need to
grow into a more inclusive multiethnic society, one with true
equality of opportunity, where all communities are invited to
participate as full partners in shaping the Houston future.
Professor Stephen L. Klineberg Department of Sociology, MS-28 Rice University, P. O. Box 1892 Houston, Texas 77251-1892 Telephone: 713-348-3484 or 713-665-2010 email address: [email_address] Web: www.houstonareasurvey.org For additional copies of the 2005 report, call Rice University at: 713-348-4225. CONTACT INFORMATION