For the first time in U.S. history, minority births have outnumbered those of whites. The shift is subtle, but according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau on the period from April 2010 to July 2011, the percentage of white newborns fell to 49.6 percent of children younger than a year.
“This is a fundamental tipping point signaling a change in our demographic structure for decades to come,” William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told the Bloomberg report in an e-mail.
The biggest growth was seen among Hispanic and Asian populations, which have surged by more than 40 percent since 2000. Hispanics made up 16.7 percent of the population in July 2011 and Asians were 4.8 percent. The black population has grown 12.9 percent since 2000 and now makes up 12.3 percent of the nation. Non-Hispanic whites only increased 1.5 percent from 2000 to 2011, which is slower than the national growth of 9.7 percent. Still, they are by far the largest segment of the population at 63.4 percent.
Bloomberg points out that the trend means predominantly white, older enclaves in the Northeast and Midwest will have to increasingly rely on an young Asians and Hispanics in the West and Sun Belt to support Social Security and other retirement programs. Right now, there are 4.8 working-age Americans for every person older than 65. By 2035, that number will fall to 2.8 people per retiree. By that time though, social security will already be exhausted. Social Security trustees pointed out in a report last month that by 2033, funds that pay retirement, disability and survivor’s benefits to one in four U.S. households will be gone.
Getting back to the population shift, Jeffrey Passell, a senior demographer for the Pew Hispanic Center said the transition to a majority-minority nation won’t be smooth, but it’s not exactly a new thing for America.
“If you go back 100 years, groups that are now considered part of the majority white population were perceived as minorities,” he said. “Over time, we’ll change the way we perceive these categories.”
What do you think the eventual shift to a majority-minority society will mean for black people?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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