A rebuttal to two common conceits about NYC vs. Chicago, in an attempt to clarify.
1. “Chicago is more segregated than New York.”
From CensusScope analysis of 2000 Census data, this is false. The usual measure of segregation is called the dissimilarity index; an index of 100 implies total segregation between two groups. The New York PMSA in 2000 had a black-white dissimilarity index of 84.3 and a Latino-white dissimilarity index of 69.3. Chicago’s comparable indices are 83.6 for black-white and 64.8 for Latino-white.
2. “You only find Midwesterners in Chicago. New York draws from all over the country.”
An admittedly dated (from 1999, using 1990 Census data) analysis by USC professor Dowell Myers [PDF, pp. 934] found that a similar proportion of New York and Chicago region residents* were born within their respective tri-state areas. 57.6% of New Yorkers were born in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut; 60.5% of Chicagoans were born in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin. For all its claims to be a national draw, only 18% of New Yorkers moved from other states/territories, while 24.8% of Chicagoans moved from outside its region (but within the country). By comparison, in the Washington, D.C. region, “long believed to be a region of transient residents who came to town for short tours as students, military officers or federal workers” (as the WaPo wrote in 1991), only 34.5% of residents were born within D.C., Maryland, or Virginia.
This particular complaint is often levied against the Lincoln Park area, with its “Big 10 frat party” feel, although fewer than 1 in 120 Chicago region residents live there. Yet the New York region’s white population is even more provincial than the Chicago region’s: fully 73.4% of New York’s white residents were born within the tri-state area, vs. 71% of the Chicago region’s.
Far more of New York’s population was born abroad (24.5% vs. 14.7%), although Los Angeles easily beats both with 30.1% of its residents being foreign-born — which, in turn, pales against Toronto’s 46%.
* Over 25.