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A Minority Majority Among Young Americans

A Minority Majority Among Young Americans

80 percent of Americans over 65 years old is white; among American aged 45 – 60, 75 percent are white. But within just about half a century, the US population will be quite different: For the first time, more than half of the children under 2 years old in the US were born to minorities who will one day — one day soon — become the majority.

These figures offer a preview of data from the 2010 US census and indicate nothing less than a “changing social order,” says the Associated Press. Says Laura Speer, coordinator of the Kids Count project for the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation:

“We’re moving toward an acknowledgment that we’re living in a different world than the 1950s, where married or two-parent heterosexual couples are now no longer the norm for a lot of kids, especially kids of color.”

Non-Hispanic white children now comprise just under half of children under 3 years old; in 1990, they made up more than 60 percent. Further, in twelve states and the District of Columbia — Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Mississippi — fewer than 40 percent of children under the age of 5 are white. If the current demographic trends continue, seven more states might “flip to ‘minority-majority’ status among small children in the next decade: Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, South Carolina and Delaware.”

Already in my home state of California, minorities comprise 58 percent of the population and are truly the minority no more. In 2000, 51 percent of California’s population were minorities.

Much of the “race change” is due to young Hispanic women having more children than white women, who generally have fewer children and who, as a group, are moving beyond their childbearing years.

As William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the data says, the new census data “will show a minority majority of our youngest Americans, makes plain that our future labor force is absolutely dependent on our ability to integrate and educate a new diverse child population.” Indeed, the new figures are appearing in a climate of rising hostility to immigrants, with some states — Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina — passing laws that require schools to report students’ immigration status to state authorities.

We live in northern New Jersey just across the Hudson River from New York City and have definitely seen these demographic changes, in the streets and in our classrooms. My husband teaches at a university in Manhattan and I teach at a college in Jersey City, a far smaller city that is said to be one of the most racially diverse in the world, with a large Kenyan population, the country’s largest Egyptian Coptic population, large numbers of Indian and Filipino residents, among many other groups. I grew up in the Bay Area in northern California and remember often being the only Asian in my elementary school classes. I’m quite sure things look very different now — what a change a few decades can make.

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76 comments

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6:31AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

thank you

5:46PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

And I can't wait!! Having a diverse, more tolerant voting population will decrease the number of rich white men serving in Congress. Hurrah!

5:56AM PDT on Jul 19, 2011

Noted with great interest.

5:53AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Wow, that's very interesting! I think it's good that the USA has become a place for people of all races and religions! Go equality! x

11:45PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

I think that the time has come when everyone, of all races, should consider their impact on the environment and have (in general) two or less children.

9:48PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

cont'd....

In Mexico alone there are: A small remnant of pure Spanish, a large number of Mestizos or mixed race, a large AmerIndian population, some French, Germans and other Europeans, some non-Indian Orientals, Middle Eastern peoples, and quite a few American Expats in Baja California who have been mixing with the locals for decades. So maybe we should all watch more Telemundo.

Oh and by the way: People south of the border all call themselves Americans, because that's the name of our continent.

9:44PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Micha and others,

Good question. In the the U.S. the term 'Hispanic' is incorrectly used for a huge cross section of the world's races and peoples, anything from pure Spanish to American Indian to Afro-American, so there needs to be more detail-it's a very complex demographic. The term itself is resented by those whom it describes; they prefer 'Latino.' U.S. citizens tend to use it for anyone south of the border, but if you stop and think about it that includes: Argentinian and Chilean Germans, Costa Rican Dutch, pure Indians who survived the Spanish Conquista and are still numerous, non-indian Oriental communities in Peru and other places, and the immense Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Carribean populations. There are also mixtures and gradations of all of these together and more. It's really a microcosm of the entire world. And to cover all that, most Americans just say 'Hispanic'. Ridiculous. To be fair, 'Latino' is equally invalid as it would technically have to include French, Italians, Portuguese, and Romanians as well as Spanish - all countries which formerly spoke Latin.

To illustrate, my best friend from high school in Arizona was of Old Spanish descent and was VERY anti-immigrant in common with a lot of Caucasian 'Zonies. When I pointed out the incongruity of this he would laugh and say 'don't you know Mexican culture is extremely stratified, even more than here? Haven't you ever watched Telemundo? Most of the stars are very Caucasian-looking.'

In Mexico alone the

8:30AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Nicolette M. You will note that when the Republican debate was on the first question was set up to let us know how much of a family they had. Mitt Romney has 5 children, Jon Huntsman has 7 children and Michelle Bachman has 5 children. Rick Santorum has 7 children. Newt Gingrich had to practically appoligise for only having two. Add to that people like the Duggars who have 19 children and planning on more apparently. All these folk are white protestants who have the option to have limited families, unlike the catholics who have no option of using birth control except the rhythm method. It is obvious to me that some religions want as many people born into them as possible so they can rule the world.

8:00AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

And your point?

4:11AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Intersting article. I have made this observation myself both in the UK and in South Africa, where minorities are fast becoming majorities. I do however agree that it is certain cultures that do not seem to care about their impact on the environment and breed indiscriminately, irrespective of their economical situation and without any thought for the future of their offspring. The majority tend to leave that up to the "state" in their adopted countries. It is the educated, enlightnened and conscious beings that are not breeding like rats and are more concerned about sustainabiility than the ignorant masses who will eventually rule and ruin the world.

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