More than half of children born in the US are now from racial and ethnic minorities, according to data from the 2011 Census. Non-Hispanic whites now account for 49.6 percent of births in the US; Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race now account for 50.4 percent of births in the US. In contrast, in 1990, racial and minority births comprised 37 percent of births in the US.
Indeed, in the decade ending in 1990, minorities accounted for 92 percent of the nationís population growth.
The shift is nothing less than a “milestone,” says the New York Times, in a “nation whose government was founded by white Europeans and has wrestled mightily with issues of race, from the days of slavery, through a civil war, bitter civil rights battles and, most recently, highly charged debates over efforts to restrict immigration.” William H. Frey, a senior demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the census data, said that the shift is an “important tipping point” as it marks a “transformation from a mostly white baby boomer culture to the more globalized multiethnic country that we are becoming.”
It’s a trend that has been underway for the past three decades, due to waves of mostly Hispanic immigrants who have tended to be younger and to have more children than non-Hispanic whites. Overall, the US’s minority population has increased 1.9 percent, to 114.1 million or 36.6 percent, notes the Associated Press. Across the US, whites are no longer the majority in 348 counties. If you consider the toddler population, whites are the minority in twice as many counties. In four states and the District of Columbia, and in many major metro areas including New York, Las Vegas and Memphis, whites are also no longer the majority.
Non-Hispanic whites still comprise the majority of the US population, at 63.4 percent. But their median age is 42; in contrast, the median age of Latinos is 27. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Hispanic children born in the US exceeded the number of arriving Hispanic immigrants. Since 2008, the birth rate has declined among non-Hispanic whites and minorities in part due to the economic slump: The number of births among non-Hispanic whites has fallen by 11.4 percent, compared to 3.2 percent for minorities, says the†Associated Press
Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, co-director of Immigration studies at New York University, asks a compelling question: “How do we reimagine the social contract when the generations donít look like one another?”†The disparity in the racial and ethnic makeup between the young and the elderly is growing. Notably, the largest gaps are in states — Arizona, Nevada, Texas and California — that have had “flare-ups over immigration, school textbooks and priorities in spending,” says the New York Times, citing the example of Yuma County, Arizona, where 18 percent of those under 20 are white and 73 percent of the population is over 65.†Will older white Americans “balk at paying to educate a younger generation that looks less like themselves?”
Or do we need to keep in mind that many younger Americans are already accustomed to being in classrooms whose racial and ethnic makeup is far different than my late Irish-American in-laws could have imagined, and to growing up in neighborhoods and in families that are themselves diverse?
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