In yet another sign of the declining white population in the U.S., new census data reveals that for the first time in at least a century, the number of white people who died last year exceeded the number of white births, meaning the white population actually shrunk.
The difference was small—about 12,000—but extremely symbolic, further illustrating that the future of the country will be one where people of color outnumber white people.
The decrease was for the year ending July 1, 2012. Earlier census reports had shown that a majority of births in the United States are now to Hispanic, black and Asian mothers— more evidence that white Americans will become a minority nationwide within about three decades.
The census numbers also show that people of color now make up about half of the under-5 age group. Thomas Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau’s acting director, said that based on current rates of growth, whites in the under-5 group are expected to tip to a minority this year or next and within the next five years whites will be a minority in the under-18 group.
“These new census estimates are an early signal alerting us to the impending decline in the white population that will characterize most of the 21st century,” William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, told the New York Times.
Frey said the transition will mean that “today’s racial and ethnic minorities will no longer be dependent on older whites for their economic well-being,” which will have a profound effect on politics and social policy.
“It makes more vivid than ever the fact that we will be reliant on younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth,” he said, adding that the viability of programs like Social Security and Medicare “will be reliant on the success of waves of young Hispanics, Asians and blacks who will become the bulwark of our labor force.”
In addition, the issues of non-whites “will hold greater sway than ever before.”
While analysts expected that the white population would eventually shrink as it aged, as has happened in many European countries, they didn’t expect it for another decade or so.
Kenneth M. Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute, a research center based at the University of New Hampshire, blamed part of the shrinking on the recession, which lowered the number of white births. Johnson said there were 320,000 more births than deaths among whites in the year beginning July 2006, just before the recession, and from 2010 to 2011, the natural increase among whites had shrunk to 29,000.
There were 1.9 million white births in the year ending July 1, 2012, compared with 2.3 million from July 2006 to 2007 during the economic boom, a 13.3 percent decline. White deaths increased 1.6 percent during the same period.
Asians were the fastest-growing major ethnic or racial group, according to the census, with a growth of 2.9 percent, or 530,000. Immigration from overseas accounted for 60 percent of that growth. Hispanics grew by 2.2 percent, or more than 1.1 million—the most of any group—with 76 percent coming from new births. The black population expanded by 559,000, or 1.3 percent, while the white population expanded by only 175,000, or 0.09 percent.
According to the census, the median age rose to 37.5 from 37.3, but it declined in Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma. The median age ranged from 64.8 in Sumter, Fla., to 23 in Madison, Idaho.
The census also reported that the number of Americans over 100 years old is close to 62,000.
2 thoughts on “US Census Report: For 1st Time in a Century, White Deaths Exceeded White Births”
'Frey said the transition will mean that “today’s racial and ethnic minorities will no longer be dependent on older whites for their economic well-being…”'.
So this comment got me thinking about something: "Frey said the transition will mean that 'today’s racial and ethnic minorities will no longer be dependent on older whites for their economic well-being,' which will have a profound effect on politics and social policy… In addition, the issues of non-whites 'will hold greater sway than ever before.'''
I think this is wonderful in many ways. The irony for me is that an issue like affirmative action, which was desperately needed and was denied for a long time when non-whites were a serious minority, will now have a much easier time getting attention when many social injustices have righted themselves rendering it no longer necessary. I feel like this happens a lot in life–when people are down, no one seems to help, and when they are doing well, opportunity falls out of the sky. Anyway just an odd observation. Better late than never I guess.