University of Pittsburgh
June 25, 2007

Blacks in Pittsburgh Are the Most Disadvantaged Racial Group on a Wide Range of Quality-of-Life Measures, According to Pitt Study

Study is the most comprehensive ever done on the quality of life of multiple racial groups in the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area
Contact: 

Sharon Blake

412-624-4364

Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH- Blacks in Pittsburgh are the most disadvantaged racial group on a wide range of quality-of-life measures.

The rate for serious mental illness in the Black population is substantially higher in Allegheny County than it is across the nation.

Asians and Hispanics in the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area are employed in management and professional positions at a much higher rate than the national average.

Only about one-quarter of Black women in Pittsburgh are married, compared to half of White and Hispanic women and two-thirds of Asian women.

These are just a few of the many striking findings in the inaugural racial demographic report on the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan region compiled by the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP). Titled Pittsburgh's Racial Demographics: Differences and Disparities, CRSP's new report is the most comprehensive study ever done on the quality of life of multiple racial groups in greater Pittsburgh-African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Whites-and provides a snapshot of the quality of life for Pittsburgh area residents compared with national quality-of-life averages.

The report was released today before an audience of Pitt faculty, community leaders, representatives from city and county government, as well as foundations. It is available at http://www.crsp.pitt.edu/demographics.html.

The report explores six areas: families, youth, and elderly; economic disparities; education; intergroup relations; mental health; and criminal justice. The data are expected to be helpful to policy makers, community leaders, and those who work to improve access to higher education and health delivery systems. Some of the findings follow.

Families, Youth, and Elderly

Blacks and Whites in the Pittsburgh region, like those across the nation, live largely in racially segregated communities. This has serious implications for Black communities, which are often disadvantaged in many quality-of-life factors, including job and transportation access and public safety. Only about one-quarter of Black women in Pittsburgh are married, compared to half of White and Hispanic women and two-thirds of Asian women.

Education

A much higher percentage of Asians and Hispanics in the Pittsburgh area have graduate or professional degrees, compared to Whites and Blacks. Black students are not as proficient as White students in math in grades 5, 8, and 11. The number of Black girls graduating from Pittsburgh public high schools has increased substantially from 2003 to 2004, while the same did not occur for Black boys.

Economic Disparities

Home ownership rates in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area are higher for Whites and Hispanics, compared to the rest of the country. And, as is the case throughout the country, Asians in this region have the highest median household income. All four racial/ethnic groups use public transportation at a higher rate to go to work in the Pittsburgh area than do like groups elsewhere in the nation.

Intergroup Relations

About half of Allegheny County's Black residents and one-fifth of its White residents see race relations as a serious problem both in the region and nation. Half of the county's Black residents also reported being victims of unfair treatment or discrimination in a store within the last six months. Fewer than half of the county's Black residents feel citizens of all races are being treated fairly by the police.

Mental Health

Researchers found the rate of serious mental illness in Allegheny County substantially higher among Blacks than Whites. Whites with an income of less than $25,000 a year have a higher rate of serious mental illness than Whites with a higher income. Blacks who earn less than $25,000 a year have a higher rate of serious mental illness than Whites who earn the same amount.

Criminal Justice

In the Pittsburgh region, most of the Black individuals arrested for murder and non-negligent manslaughter are involved in cases in the city of Pittsburgh, while the majority of White arrests for the same crimes are outside Allegheny County. The majority of juveniles and adults arrested for property crime in the city are Black, while most of the juveniles and adults arrested for property crime in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area and the nation overall are White.

A follow-up report, exploring solutions to some of these problems, will be released by CRSP within the next year.

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6/25/07/tmw