Thursday 26 April 2018

Non-white births outnumber white births for the first time in US

Racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half the children born in the US. Photo: Reuters
Racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half the children born in the US. Photo: Reuters

WHITE births in the United States are no longer in the majority, according to new data from the US Census Bureau.

Minority races - Hispanics, blacks and Asians and other mixed races - accounted for 50.4 percent of births over the year to July, accounting for a majority for the first time in US history.



The demographic milestone had been expected for years in a country founded by European whites and that early on relied heavily on the work of enslaved African populations, then went through a civil war and civil rights battle over issues of race.



In recent years, the growth of Hispanic populations immigrating from Latin America has hastened a decline in the majority status of white births, the census data suggested.



"This is an important landmark," said Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau who is now a sociologist at Howard University. "This generation is growing up much more accustomed to diversity than its elders."



As a whole, the nation's minority population continues to rise, following a higher-than-expected Hispanic count in the 2010 census. Minorities increased 1.9 percent to 114.1 million, or 36.6 percent of the total U.S. population, lifted by prior waves of immigration that brought in young families and boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years.



But a recent slowdown in the growth of the Hispanic and Asian populations is shifting notions on when the tipping point in U.S. diversity will come - the time when non-Hispanic whites become a minority. After 2010 census results suggested a crossover as early as 2040, demographers now believe the pivotal moment may be pushed back several years when new projections are released in December.



The annual growth rates for Hispanics and Asians fell sharply last year to just over 2 percent, roughly half the rates in 2000 and the lowest in more than a decade. The black growth rate stayed flat at 1 percent.



Racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half the children born in the US, capping decades of heady immigration growth that is now slowing.



New 2011 census estimates highlight sweeping changes in the nation's racial makeup and the prolonged impact of a weak economy, which is now resulting in fewer Hispanics entering the U.S.



The report comes as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the legality of Arizona's strict immigration law, with many states weighing similar get-tough measures.



"We remain in a dangerous period where those appealing to anti-immigration elements are fueling a divisiveness and hostility that might take decades to overcome," Harrison said.



As a whole, the nation's minority population continues to rise, following a higher-than-expected Hispanic count in the 2010 census. Minorities increased 1.9 percent to 114.1 million, or 36.6 percent of the total U.S. population, lifted by prior waves of immigration that brought in young families and boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years.



But a recent slowdown in the growth of the Hispanic and Asian populations is shifting notions on when the tipping point in U.S. diversity will come - the time when non-Hispanic whites become a minority. After 2010 census results suggested a crossover as early as 2040, demographers now believe the pivotal moment may be pushed back several years when new projections are released in December.



The annual growth rates for Hispanics and Asians fell sharply last year to just over 2 percent, roughly half the rates in 2000 and the lowest in more than a decade. The black growth rate stayed flat at 1 percent.



Pointing to a longer-term decline in immigration, demographers believe the Hispanic population boom may have peaked.



"The Latino population is very young, which means they will continue to have a lot of births relative to the general population," said Mark Mather, associate vice president of the Population Reference Bureau. "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."

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life