Saturday, June 15, 2024

Minorities will soon be the Majority

According to a new demographic report, minorities make up nearly half the children born in the U.S.  This is part of a historic trend in which whites of European descent are expected to become the minority of the U.S. population over the next 40 years.

“Census projections suggest America may become a minority-majority country by the middle of the century. For America’s children, the future is now,” said Kenneth Johnson, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire who researched many of the racial trends in a paper being released Wednesday.

Demographers expect that this year the number of babies born to minorities will outnumber those born to whites.  Increased immigration, which has lead to a larger demographic of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years, is a major contributing factor to this change in population.   Hispanic women tend to have higher fertility rates than their non-Hispanic counterparts.  Furthermore, white women are waiting longer before having children, a trend whose impact is not fully understood but which would suggest a reduction in births.

Minorities made up 48 percent of U.S. children born in 2008 according to the latest census estimates available, compared to 37 percent in 1990.

These numbers point to the growing divide in age and ethnicity in the United States, particularly in certain regions and likely will have a profound effect on policy debates including immigration reform, healthcare, education, and Social Security.

There are also implications for the 2010 census, which will begin next week.  The Census Bureau has been undertaking a campaign to encourage full participation, especially among minorities.  Public service announcements are being produced in both English and Spanish, and a special partnership with Nickelodeon will feature ads with Dora the Explorer, the  bi-lingual children’s cartoon who is seen helping “mommy fill out our census form.”

Census figures are used to distribute federal aid and redraw legislative boundaries with racial and ethnic balance, as required by federal law.

“The adults among themselves sometimes forget the census is about everyone, and kids should be counted,” said Census Bureau director Robert Groves. “If we fail to count a newborn that is born this month, that newborn misses all the benefits of the census for 10 years.”

While whites are expected to remain the majority in the U.S. until at least 2050, many indicators are pointing to the growth of minority populations.  Roughly 1 in 10 of the nation’s counties has a minority population in excess of 50 percent, but 1 in 4 has more minority children than white children.  Hispanic women have 3 children on average, while white women have approximately 2 children.