The Common Elements of Multicultural Cities

Demographic Diversity

First, an obvious but defining quality of multicultural cities is the racial and ethnic diversity of their populations. Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles are internally so diverse that no one group numerically dominates. All three have either become majority-minority cities or are at the cusp of becoming that, so much so that their native-born Whites are now minorities, less than 50% of the population. In Canada and the United States, this is becoming characteristic of most metropolitan cities. Except for the linguistic convention, one cannot demographically call ethno-racial groups minorities. This demographic change is transformative.

As the ethnic and racial mix of the urban population changes, consumers' demands and preferences shift towards culturally preferred goods and services - for example, ethnic groceries, restaurants, apparel, music, art, furniture, and book stores of distinct cultural/religious markers are started - changing the commercial structure of a city. Though this is largely a market phenomenon, cities' receptivity to such developments has to be deliberately worked out through accommodations and the harmonization of economic policies, zoning by-laws, and signage regulations among many other public measures.

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