You’ve probably heard that in the not-too-distant future, the United States will become a “majority-minority” country—that is, the majority of the population will be made up of non-Hispanic whites. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a milestone in that demographic trend has been reached: for the first time, babies born to mothers of racial or ethnic minorities combined to outnumber those born to whites. The nation’s under-age-five population is also nearing the tipping point, with 49.7 percent belonging to minority groups. The populations of several states—California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas—and of the District of Columbia are already majority-minority. Overall, non-Hispanic whites remain 63.4 percent of the U.S. population.
A variety of factors are responsible for this demographic evolution. Differences in fertility rates, percentages of women of child-bearing age, and age distribution in general between the majority white population and the nation’s minorities are the major contributing factors. Immigration and people’s attitudes toward mixed-race marriage also matter. Some facts of note from the new Census Bureau report:
· 3,940 minority children were born last year for every 1,000 members of a minority group who died in 2011—compared to 1,025 births to 1,000 deaths for the white population;
· fertility rates (average number of children born per woman) are 2.4 among Hispanics, 2.1 among non-Hispanic blacks, and 1.8 among both non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans; and
· minority populations are younger on average than whites, and therefore more likely to be having children.
With non-Hispanic whites having been the majority throughout the nation’s history, this change represents a facelift in U.S. demography; however, it has been long anticipated. When the non-Hispanic white population of America is no longer a majority—projections put this sometime between 2042 and 2050—whites will still be the largest minority. But by that time, the very concept of what constitutes “white” in America may have evolved beyond recognition.
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More Than Half of US Babies Now Minorities, US Census Reports
Read about the demographic milestone in America’s slow evolution into a racially and ethnically diverse nation.
(Source: Christian Science Monitor, May 17, 2012)
Minority Report: New U.S. Data Shows More Ethnic Babies Than Whites
This article breaks down the data and offers some historical perspective; includes links to related articles and the Census Bureau’s report “What the World Will Look Like in 2050.”
(Source: Time, Inc., May 18, 2012)
Explaining Why Minority Births Now Outnumber White Births
This website explores the demographics of age, fertility, marital status, and more; includes a graph showing U.S. fertility rates by race and ethnicity.
(Source: Pew Research Center, May 17, 2012)
The Myth of Majority-Minority America
This opinion piece explores the problematic aspects of minority versus majority identity in 21st-century America while recounting the history of shifting Census Bureau definitions pertaining to race.
(Source: Slate.com, May 22, 2012)