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Census: Minority babies are now majority in United StatesBy Carol Morello<http://www.washingtonpost.com/carol-morello/2011/02/28/ABCEisM_page.html> and
Ted Mellnik, Published: May 16
For the first time in U.S. history, most of the nation’s babies are members
of minority groups, according to new census figures that signal the dawn of
an era in which whites no longer will be in the majority.
Population estimates show that 50.4 percent of children younger than 1 last
year were Hispanic, black, Asian American or in other minority groups.
That’s almost a full percentage point higher than the 49.5 percent of
minority babies counted when the decennial census was taken in April 2010.
Census Bureau demographers said the tipping point came three months later,
The latest estimates, which gauge changes since the last census, are a
reflection of an immigration wave that began four decades ago. The
transformation of the country’s racial and ethnic makeup has gathered steam
as the white population grows collectively older, especially compared with
The census has forecast that non-Hispanic whites will be outnumbered in the
United States by 2042, and social scientists consider that current status
among infants a harbinger of the change.
“This is a watershed moment,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns
Hopkins University who specializes in family issues. “It shows us how
multicultural we’ve become.”
Although minorities make up about 37 percent of the U.S. population, the
District and four states are majority minority — California,<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/08/AR201...> Hawaii,
New Mexico and Texas.
Metropolitan Washington, where whites are in the minority, is far ahead of
the curve. Among children younger than 5, there are more minorities than
whites in virtually every jurisdiction except Arlington and Loudoun
counties. Statewide, Virginia has just barely more white children under age
1 than minorities, but they are on the verge of falling below half.
One of the biggest factors in the demographic change is age. Whites are by
far the oldest group. Their median age is over 42, so many are beyond their
prime childbearing years. In contrast, the median age for Hispanics is
under 28. Blacks and Asians have median ages in their early 30s.
As the number of white women in their 20s and 30s declined over the past
decade, the number of white children dropped in most states, said Kenneth
Johnson, a sociologist with the University of New Hampshire.
“The population is literally changing before us, with the youngest
replacing the oldest,” he said. “This is the first tipping point. The kids
are in the vanguard of the change that’s coming.”
Places that serve Hispanic mothers and children are experiencing a baby
boom. Mary’s Center, which started in Adams Morgan in 1988 to provide
immigrant women with prenatal care, opened its fifth center Wednesday in
“The people who migrate are the young and healthy people,” said Maria
Gomez, founder of the center. “They are fertile, and that’s the cycle of
Dozens of women who are pregnant or pushing strollers streamed into Mary’s
Center on Georgia Avenue on Wednesday to see doctors or social workers.
Fourteen toddlers listened to stories narrated in English and Spanish while
their parents attended English lessons.
“There are a lot of kids now, and many of them are Latinos,” said Mayra
Jacinto, a native of Guatemala who arrived two hours before her doctor’s
appointment, holding her 5-month-old daughter, Ivonne.
In the short term, it’s not clear whether the baby boom will continue. Immigration
from Mexico,<http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/for-first-time-since-depression-m...> the
country of origin for the vast majority of Hispanic immigrants in the
United States, has come to a standstill and may be moving in reverse.
William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, said the
slowdown in immigration may delay the nation’s transformation to a
majority-minority society from 2042 to 2050 or beyond. But he said it will
not prevent it.
“Eventually, when the economy returns, we’re going to get more immigrants,
maybe not from Mexico but from other parts of the world,” he said. Without
so many youthful immigrants, he added, the United States would look more
like Japan, with its disproportionate share of elderly citizens.
“We were already seeing a declining youth population in large parts of the
country,” Frey said. “Without immigrants, we’d be essentially youthless. We
had a perfect storm. We got them all coming, younger immigrants having
children, at a time when we really needed them.”
The future is here, in Northern Virginia, where several hundred thousand
immigrants have settled over the past 25 years from societies as different
as Vietnam, El Salvador, Ethiopia and Iraq.
The backgrounds of children enrolled in Head Start programs in the area
have changed with each wave of immigrants. From 2010 to 2011, Hispanics
held steady, but the number of children of Asian and African origin jumped
more than 30 percent, while those with roots elsewhere, such as from the
Middle East, doubled.
“The face of Head Start here has changed, but not the earnest desire of
these families to see their children do the best they can,” said Melinda
Langford, the Arlington Head Start director for Northern Virginia Family
Service, a private nonprofit agency that serves 2,400 children younger than
At Langford’s program, six in 10 preschoolers have parents who were born in
another country. Colorful drawings line the halls and classroom walls,
signed with names such as Francisco, Dayana, Khadija, Ureal, Lavand, Betel,
Estefany, Brittany and Seid.
Program officials describe their mission as an affirmation of diversity as
well as an educational boost for struggling kids. Sometimes they face
cultural challenges, such as parents accustomed to disciplining their
children more harshly than U.S. laws allow. To help with communication,
Head Start employs class assistants and family advocates who are native
speakers of a wide range of languages.
Cherlin said the immigrant baby boom will eventually taper off. Studies
suggest that the children and grandchildren of the newest immigrants will
have birthrates much closer to those of non-Hispanic whites.
“The changes to the country may not be as huge as some people think,” he
said. “Immigrants will change our society, but our society will change the
The new census estimates also offered a glimpse of a region that reflects
national trends and in some cases defies them.
The District continued its rebound, attracting 16,000 new residents from
all age groups — in one year gaining almost as many people as the 20,000 it
added the entire previous decade. Although the number of African Americans
rose by more than 2,000, their proportion dipped below 50 percent <http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/black-dc-residents-plummet-barely...>for
the first time in decades. Whites had the biggest increase, at 8,000. But
among babies, the number of Hispanic infants rose the most as a percentage,
up 70 percent, to 1,700. The number of infants who are white also rose
sharply, while there were fewer African American babies.
In both Maryland and Virginia, the numbers of Hispanics and Asians
continued to grow sharply. The number of blacks increased modestly, while
the number of whites was virtually unchanged.
In Prince George’s County, one of the most affluent majority-black counties
in the nation, the number of African Americans declined slightly, while
Hispanics and whites gained.
Staff writers Pamela Constable and Luz Lazo contributed to this report.
© The Washington Post Company
Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S.By SABRINA TAVERNISE<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/t/sabrina_...>Published:
May 17, 2012 582 Comments<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/us/whites-account-for-under-half-of...>
WASHINGTON — After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census
made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United
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White Births No Longer Majority in U.S.<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/us/whites-account-for-under-half-of...>
- GRAPHIC: Largest Generational Gaps in Minority Births<http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/05/17/us/largest-generational...>
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Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6 percent of all births in the
12-month period that ended last July, according to Census Bureau data made
public on Thursday, while minorities — including Hispanics, blacks, Asians
and those of mixed race — reached 50.4 percent, representing a majority for
the first time in the country’s history.
Such a turn has been long expected, but no one was certain when the moment
would arrive — signaling a milestone for 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<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/us/whites-account-for-under-half-of...> battles
and, most recently, highly charged debates over efforts to restrict
While over all, whites will remain a majority for some time, the fact that
a younger generation is being born in which minorities are the majority has
broad implications for the country’s economy, its political life and its
identity. “This is an important tipping point,” said William H. Frey, the
senior demographer at the Brookings Institution, describing the shift as a
“transformation from a mostly white baby boomer culture to the more
globalized multiethnic country that we are becoming.”
Signs that the country is evolving this way start<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/us/whites-account-for-under-half-of...> with
the Oval Office, and have swept hundreds of counties in recent years, with
348 in which whites are no longer in the majority. That number doubles when
it comes to the toddler population, Mr. Frey said. Whites are no longer the
majority in four states and the District of Columbia, and have slipped
below half in many major metro areas, including New York, Las Vegas and
A more diverse young population forms the basis of a generational divide
with the country’s elderly, a group that is largely white and grew up in a
world that was too.
The contrast raises important policy questions. The United States has a
spotty record educating minority youth; will older Americans balk at paying
to educate a younger generation that looks less like themselves? And while
the increasingly diverse young population is a potential engine of growth,
will it become a burden if it is not properly educated?
“The question is, how do we reimagine the social contract when the
generations don’t look like one another?” said Marcelo Suarez-Orozco,
co-director of Immigration studies<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/us/whites-account-for-under-half-of...> at
New York University.
The trend toward greater minority births has been building for years, the
result of the large wave of immigration here over the past three decades.
Hispanics make up the majority of immigrants, and they tend to be younger —
and to have more children — than non-Hispanic whites. (Of the total births
in the year that ended last July, about 26 percent were Hispanic, about 15
percent black, and about 4 percent Asian.)
Whites still represent the single largest share of all births, at 49.6
percent, and are an overwhelming majority in the population as a whole, at
63.4 percent. But they are aging<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/us/whites-account-for-under-half-of...>,
causing a tectonic shift in American demographics. The median age for
non-Hispanic whites is 42 — meaning the bulk of women are moving out of
their prime childbearing years.
Latinos, on the other hand, are squarely within their peak fertility, with
a median age of 27, said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew
Hispanic Center. Between 2000 and 2010, there were more Hispanic births in
the United States than there were arriving Hispanic immigrants, he said.
The result is striking: Minorities accounted for 92 percent of the nation’s
population growth in the decade that ended in 2010, Mr. Frey calculated, a
surge that has created a very different looking America from the one of the
1950s, when the TV characters Ozzie and Harriet were a national archetype.
The change is playing out across states with large differences in ethnic
and racial makeup between the elderly and the young. Some of the largest
gaps are in Arizona, Nevada, Texas and California, states that have had
flare-ups over immigration, school textbooks and priorities in spending.
The nonrural county with the largest gap is Yuma County, Ariz., where just
18 percent of people under 20 are white, compared with 73 percent of people
over 65, Mr. Frey said.
Perhaps the most urgent aspect of the change is education. A college degree
has become the most important building block of success in today’s economy,
but blacks and Latinos lag far behind whites in getting one. According to
Mr. Frey, just 13 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of blacks have a
college degree, compared with 31 percent of whites.
Those stark statistics are made more troubling by the fact that young
Americans will soon be faced with caring for the bulging population of baby
boomers as they age into retirement, said William O’Hare, a senior
consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, on top of
inheriting trillions of dollars of government debt.
“The forces coming together here are very clear, but I don’t see our
political leaders putting them together in any coherent way,” he said,
adding that educating young minorities was of critical importance to the
future of the country and the economy.
Immigrants took several generations to assimilate through education in the
last large wave of immigration at the turn of the 20th century, Mr.
Suarez-Orozco said, but mobility was less dependent on education then, and
Americans today cannot afford to wait, as they struggle to compete with
countries like China.
“This is a polite knock on the door to tell us to get ready,” said Ruy
Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “We do a
pretty lousy job of educating the younger generation of minorities.
Basically, we are not ready for this.”
But there are bright spots. Arturo Vargas, executive director of the
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said the
immigration debate of recent years has raised the political consciousness
of young Latinos and he is hopeful that more will become politically active
as a result. Only half of eligible Latino voters cast ballots in 2008, he
said, compared with 65 percent of eligible non-Hispanic voters. “We have an
opportunity here with this current generation,” Mr. Vargas said. About
50,000 Latinos turn 18 every month, he said.
And the fact that the country is getting a burst of births from nonwhites
is a huge advantage, argues Dowell Myers, professor of policy, planning and
demography at the University of Southern California. European societies
with low levels of immigration now have young populations that are too
small to support larger aging ones, exacerbating problems with the economy.
“If the U.S. depended on white births alone, we’d be dead,” Mr. Myers said.
“Without the contributions from all these other groups, we would become too
top-heavy with old people.”
A version of this article appeared in print on May 17, 2012, on page A1 of
the New York edition with the headline: Whites Account For Under Half Of
Births In U.S..