Minority Births Overtake White Births In US Census Data
May 18, 2012

Minority Births Overtake White Births In US Census Data

Connie K. Ho for RedOrbit.com

More than half the births in the U.S. are by racial and ethnic minorities, according to the latest U.S. census data. Asian, Black, Hispanic, and mixed-races were 50.4 percent of new arrivals by the end of July 2011. For the first time, non-Hispanic whites are the minority in births.

According to the BBC, sociologists attribute the economic slowdown as one of the reasons for the shift in demographics and a decline in birth rate among non-Hispanic whites. It is a stark contrast to previous years; in 1990, 37 percent of babies were born to minorities. Kenneth Johnson, a sociologist, also notes that white births fell by 11.4 percent in 2008 as compared to a 3.2 percent decline in births by minorities.

Researchers believe that the changes in data will highlight new challenges for the U.S. in the future.

"I think it is historic, both literally and figuratively," commented Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, in an AFP article. "It means we are going to have to work harder to make sure that all children get a good education, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, so that we can remain a strong country.”

Though there are challenges, researchers are also positive about the results from the Bureau Census.

“If the U.S. depended on white births alone, we´d be dead,” Dowell Myers, professor of policy, planning and demography at the University of Southern California, told the New York Times. “Without the contributions from all these other groups, we would become too top-heavy with old people.”

In the minority groups, Hispanics make up the largest chunk with 16.7 percent of the population in 2011. For Hispanics, there has been a 3.1 percent growth in population since 2010 and they are the fastest growing demographic group. However, some demographers believe that the Hispanic population growth has peaked and studies, such as a recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, show that immigration to the U.S. from Mexico has declined after over 40 years of continued growth.

"The Latino population is very young, which means they will continue to have a lot of births relative to the general population," commented Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau in the BBC article. "But we're seeing a slowdown that is likely the result of multiple factors: declining Latina birth rates combined with lower immigration levels. If both of these trends continue, they will lead to big changes down the road."

The data also highlights African-Americans as the second-largest minority group (43.9 million in 2011). In addition, Asians are the second-fastest growing ethnic group with a three percent rate since 2010. Major-minority states include California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas, where minorities count for over half the population in those areas.

"This is a sign that the future is here," Vanessa Cardenas, director of the Progress 2050 program at liberal think tank Center for American Progress, remarked in the AFP article. "It adds urgency to the fact that we need investment in communities that are growing the most.”

In its results, the Census Bureau also found that there were changes in the national median age. The number of people who are 65 or older rose from 1.1 million to 41.4 million. As well, there are 5.7 million people who are over the age of 85.

"There's a sharp division between the older population - with the votes and the money and the power, and a lot of needs - and the young population that is foreign to them and with whom they have no personal connection," William Frey, head of demographics at the Brookings Institution said in the BBC feature.