Historic Census Marks Changing Face Of America
The Census Bureau defines a minority as "anyone who is not single-race white and not Hispanic." The data just released by the Census Bureau, which was compiled as of July 1, 2011, puts the minority population at 36.6 percent overall and 49.7 percent of children under 5 years old, up 0.5 and 0.7 percent, respectively, from 2010.
These numbers underline the rapidly shifting demographics of the United States, a which is celebrated by some and feared by others. The Washington Post reports:
"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.'"
Some political opportunists have been known to use reports like this to play to xenophobic elements. As the Associated Press reports:
"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 [a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau] said."
Concerns about a nonwhite population with out-of-control, economically threatening birthrates appear to be unfounded at best, and often motivated by something other than empirical facts. In the comment section of the Washington Post article cited above, the author added supplementary data from a political scientist:
"He has analyzed the 2008 census statistics, and found that birth rates for naturalized citizens are almost identical to the birth rates for native-born Americans. It's 55.1 births per 1,000 mothers for native-born citizens, vs. 54.8 births per 1,000 mothers for naturalized citizens. His point is that while the birth rates for recent immigrants are relatively high, the children and grandchildren will likely conform to the norm for everyone."
While the United States remains a white-majority country, five states, including Texas and California, have already passed the demographic tipping point without fanfare.
Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.