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For First Time, Majority of U.S. Births Are Nonwhite

Trend will likely have political, economic ramifications


The United States has long been considering a melting pot, where immigrants and citizens of all races mix together as one nationality: Americans. The melting pot theory may now be more true than it has ever been at any other point in history, as the U.S. Census Bureau announced that for the first time, more nonwhite babies were born in 2011 than white babies.

In 2011, non-Hispanic whites made up 49.6% of all newborns, while 50.4% of newborns were not white. This reflects population trends of growth among minority groups. Since 2000, both Hispanic and Asian populations have seen a 40% increase. The black population also grew by 12.9% over that same time period. In contrast, the white population increased by just 1.5%, slower than the national growth rate of 9.7%.

An estimate from 2009 by the census bureau states that by the time the 2040 census is held, whites will be a minority of the population, with just 48.5% of the population being white by 2045. Four states — Hawaii, California, New Mexico, and Texas — along with the District of Columbia already have so-called majority-minority populations, where nonwhites make up the majority of citizens.

What will be the effects of this demographic shift? Already in Texas, there is a significant divide between older Texans, who tend to be white, wealthy, home owners, and frequent voters, and Texans 18-years-old and younger, which are frequently Hispanic. The population boom in Texas and unique needs of Hispanic students has put a strain on schools there at a time when government has been cutting school spending. California has also struggled to integrate its nonwhite population into education, as it has passed propositions that eliminated affirmative action for college admissions and bilingual education.

The most significant shift, though, will come to programs like Social Security and Medicare. As whiter population centers in the Northeast and Midwest age, younger workers who are more likely to be Asian and Hispanic and more likely to live in the Sun Belt or West will find themselves paying into those programs. Where there are currently 4.8 working-age Americans for every American aged 65 and older now, by 2035, that ratio will shrink to 2.8 per retiree. Without program changes, Social Security funds will be exhausted by 2033 and Medicare funds by 2024.

These growing population groups are unlikely to sit back and let their future be threatened by diminishing returns in education, Social Security, and Medicare. If those in power do not shift their policies to be friendly to a majority-minority United States, then those people will elect politicians that will benefit them.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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