Non-Hispanic white children born in America today will be members of a minority by the time they reach their fifteenth birthdays, according to Census Bureau projections released today. The report projects that present-day minorities will exceed 50% of the child population by 2023. Said Dave Waddington, chief of the Census Bureau's population projection branch, in an interview with CNN, "Part of it is a higher fertility rate for some of the minority groups, Hispanics in particular. Those groups also tend to be more of the childbearing age. Non-Hispanic white people tend to be a little bit older."
The Census Bureau also forecasts that by 2042, every racial/ethnic group in the country, including non-Hispanic whites, will be a minority. With an expected total population of 439 million, minorities will comprise 54%, and Hispanics, whose population is expected to triple by then, from 47 million today to 133 million in 2042, will account for 30% of the total, compared to 15% today. “Majority minority” populations already exist in four states and the District of Columbia. In descending order, they are: Hawaii, D.C., New Mexico, California, and Texas. None of these could really be considered a surprise, but what is interesting are the states right behind these: Maryland, Mississippi, and Georgia, all of which are now 40% minority.
While non-Hispanic whites are expected to remain the largest single group, their growth rate over the next three decades will essentially be flat, going from 199.8 million today to 203.3 million (46%, down from 66%) in 2050. This group is actually expected to decline during the 2030s and 2040s.
The most significant demographic change forecast by the Census in its report is the projection regarding the aging of the population. By 2030, all Baby Boomers will have reached age 65, and people older than 65 will constitute 20% of the total. By 2050, the current senior cohort will more than double, from 38.7 million today, going to a projected 88.5 million. In the same time frame, those over 85 are expected to triple: from 5.4 million, to 19 million in 2050.
According to Waddington, all Census Bureau projections include the undocumented population; Census data includes all residents, regardless of legal status.
All of these shifts in the makeup of America's population have significant implications for our society in the future. It is already past time for policy makers and legislators at all levels to be taking these projections into account in their planning. Shifts in population makeup and overall size of this magnitude are certain to affect all aspects of American society; from the economy to health care and education. From urban planning to waste disposal, to energy, water supply, and taxation; all are certain to be impacted by these projections.
Demographers and educators, for example, agree that planning for the classroom of the future should begin now.
It's a different kind of student body than we've known during the '50s and '60s and '70s, when a lot of our education policies were shaped,'' said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington research center.
''If we don't invest in educating and training African-American kids, immigrants and Latino kids, we won't have a middle class,'' said Mark Sawyer, the director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics at the University of California at Los Angeles. "We'll have a very, very poor disposable class that's largely black or brown."
Some estimates foresee the need for up to 36,000 more schools nationwide, to accommodate the increase in the population of school age children.
Our infrastructure, already crumbling in some areas, will require significant investment, not only to renew existing facilities, but also for expansion to accommodate the additional 135 million citizens who will be living here. We will need 52 million new housing units, and additional roads sufficient to accommodate up to 106 million additional vehicles.
Such a massive increase in the total population (the increase will equal the combined total populations of Great Britain and France today) is certain to increase pollution, congestion, and urban/suburban sprawl, as well as negatively impact availability of open space.
If the Census Bureau's projections are even close to accurate (and they do have an excellent track record), even the implications of the current oil crisis, which will constitute only part of the overall picture painted by the Census, pale by comparison.
We must begin now to prioritize and start planning to deal with the coming changes in our population. That we will eventually deal with the effects wrought by these changes is inevitable. Delay in taking action will only exacerbate the negatives and make the entire process much more expensive.
And perhaps all individual Americans should start regarding The Other as US.Powered by Sidelines