May 17th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Census: Fewer white babies being born

By Stephanie Siek and Joe Sterling, CNN

(CNN)– U.S. minorities now represent more than half of America's population under the age of 1, the Census Bureau said, a historic demographic milestone with profound political, economic and social implications.

The bureau - defining a minority as anyone who is not "single race white" and "not Hispanic" - released estimates on Thursday showing that 50.4% of children younger than 1 were minorities as of July 1, 2011, up from 49.5% from the 2010 Census taken in April 2010.

"2011 is the first time the population of infants under age 1 is majority minority," said Robert Bernstein, a Census Bureau spokesman.

The latest statistics - which also count the national population younger than 5 as 49.7% minority in 2011, an increase from 49% in 2010 - portend a future of a more racially diverse America, with new and growing populations playing more important roles politically and economically in years to come, analysts say.

Like other analysts, Kenneth M. Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute and professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, isn't surprised at the trend.

"We've known it was going to come, but the question was what year the "crossover point" would happen, he said.

"Little children are in the vanguard of all this change coming to America." he said.

Johnson sees the trend as an opportunity for more Americans to embrace diversity. More children are going to be exposed to a more diverse group of classmates, and that will affect attitudes and outlook.

The changes are going to be felt first in hospitals, as well as schools, where an increasingly diverse child population has to be absorbed. Hospitals would need interpreters and translators, for example, Johnson said. English as a second language would be an educational priority.

While many regions such as Atlanta have a diverse population, other regions lack racial and ethnic variety and will have to deal with a new kind of population, he said. In declining rural counties, he said, an influx of groups like Hispanics would serve to renew communities and changes would ensue.

"For a country that's aging, we need young workers, and the growth of the minority population will contribute to the size of the young adult workforce," he said. "This is breathing new life into the United States."

Jeff Passell, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, called the Census numbers "a cumulative effect of 35 to 40 years of immigration" bringing large numbers of Latinos, Asians and other immigrants into the United States.

He said the Hispanic population in particular is very young, much more concentrated in child-bearing years, and has a higher fertility rate than the white, non-Hispanic population. Lately, he says, there are a lot more births among native Hispanics in the United States than new Hispanic immigrants, a "cumulative effect" of immigration.

If the trend continues, Passell says several decades from now, possibly in the late 2030s or early 2040s, the U.S. population will become less than 50% non-Hispanic white.

"This is a trend that we can reasonably expect to continue. The factors that determine this have been set into motion, and in demography things tend to change gradually," he said.

There were 114 million minorities in 2011, or 36.6% of the U.S. population, a bump of half a percentage point from 2010. The latest figures count Hispanics as the most populous and fastest growing minority group.

They numbered 52 million in 2011, and their population grew by 3.1% since 2010. The U.S. Hispanic population grew from 16.3% in 2010 to 16.7% in 2011.

"California had the largest Hispanic population of any state on July 1, 2011 (14.4 million), as well as the largest numeric increase within the Hispanic population since April 1, 2010, (346,000)," the Census said.

"New Mexico had the highest percentage of Hispanics at 46.7%. Los Angeles had the largest Hispanic population of any county (4.8 million) in 2011 and the largest numeric increase since 2010 (73,000). Starr County - on the Mexican border in Texas - had the highest share of Hispanics (95.6 percent)."

Asians numbered 18.2 million nationally in 2011, making them the second fastest-growing minority group - up by 3% since 2010. Figures show that California had the largest Asian population of any state at 5.8 million and the largest increase since 2010 at 131,000.

"Hawaii is our nation's only majority-Asian state, with people of this group comprising 57.1% of the total population. Los Angeles had the largest Asian population of any county (1.6 million) in 2011, and also the largest numeric increase (16,000) since 2010. At 61.2%, Honolulu had the highest percentage of Asians in the nation," the Census said.

African-Americans are the second largest minority group in the United States at 43.9 million in 2011, an increase of 1.6% from 2010. New York has the largest black population of any state with 3.7 million and Texas has the largest increase from 2010 of 84,000. Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, has the largest black population of any county at 1.3 million. Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta, has the largest increase since 2010 at 13,000.

The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of blacks at 52.2%. Mississippi has the second-largest at 38%.

America's native population - labeled "American Indian and Alaska Native population" by the Census - was about 6.3 million in 2011, up 2.1% from 2010. California had the largest such population at 1,050,000 and the largest increase at 23,000. Alaska had the highest share at 19%. Los Angeles had the largest such population of any county, with 231,000, and the largest increase, 9,000 since 2010.

The population classified as "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" was 1.4 million in 2011, up 2.9% since 2010. Hawaii had the largest such population of any state at 359,000 and the highest percentage at 26.1. California had the largest increase since 2010 at 9,000. Honolulu has the largest population of any county at 235,000. Los Angeles County had the largest increase since 2011 at 2,700.

Of single race non-Hispanic whites, California had the largest population at 15 million. Texas had the largest increase since 2010 at 80,000. Maine had the highest percentage of the non-Hispanic white alone population, 94.3 percent.

Four states and the District of Columbia have predominantly minority populations, Hawaii, at 77%, the District of Columbia at 64.7%, California, at 60.3%, New Mexico, at 59.8%, and Texas, at 55.2%. Minorities comprised the majority population in 11% of the nation's 3,143 counties.

Michael White, professor of sociology at Brown University, said the rise of minorities fits into a longer-term evolution of the U.S. population, a mosaic that has been adapting to ethnic change since the first Census was recorded in 1790. There have been many groups represented over time, from enslaved and indigenous peoples, those of European stock, and now to a population reflecting the wider world - truly a "melting pot," he said.

White says it's hard to say how the changes will affect politics and that one can't assume that ethnic patterns will determine voting patterns. Local economic issues, for example, will evolve differently in different states and cities, and there are economic benefits of having a younger population, he said.

"The political dimensions will play out differently," he said. And by the time the babies are old enough to cast ballots, "the United States will be a different place when they are walking into a voting booth."

William Frey, Brookings Institution demographer, sees political challenges for new immigrants and an economy benefiting from their presence. Many Hispanics and Asians are too young to vote or can't cast ballots because they haven't become citizens.

"It's going to take perhaps awhile before the younger people get more engaged in politics. They do have an impact in some places, like swing states, such as Nevada, Colorado and Florida. They can make a difference," he said.

He, too, says that newcomers to the United States bring an energy that invigorates the economic system and an older society.

"I think we're going to just see that the younger part of the population will have a different vibe," he said. "They are sort of needed to help our youthful image and to add to that vitality. They will bring a dimension and element we sorely need."

soundoff (3,011 Responses)
  1. john

    It's too bad they say if there is less white people, why?, because the world will not have so many good looking people.

    June 15, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. queenbee10

    YEAH!!! and the same goes for the media glorifying high school dropouts and teen baby makers like Bristol Palin!!! You tell them!

    May 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. queenbee10

    Well. ... given the actual make up of the world, and the fact that every country is trending to global unity, this is to be expected–but if people really believe that other races will not trend towards those who they feel are "like them" just as whites have done, then they are being dishonest.

    it is human nature to want to elect or be surrounded by people who look and think/act like you AND to think such people would be more empathetic and sympathetic to you as a fellow member of the same race (with possibly the same concerns) than a person from another race. I look for us to have our first Hispanic president by 2025–he may be a white Hispanic, but it will pave the way for that demographic and then perhaps–an Indian or Asian President too.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Better Think Again

      Yes because Hispanics have such a good history of running a successful country.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Elle

        If Hispanics have such a good history of running a country, why are they leaving their countries to come here? How I wish we were speaking German today.

        May 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. writerscramp

    I live in Alabama and I intentionally brought the subject of this article up at work today among some of the most racist rednecks I am forced to work with just to see the fumes coming out of theirs ears. One got verbally rampaging on it so bad on it I thought the veins on his forehead were going to explode. It is so easy to push their buttons in their little racist brains at times

    May 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Teddy

    Whites live outside their means. They spend as though there is no tomorrow.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • queenbee10

      Change that to "Americans" and most would agree with you–I know of no group in America unless it is perhaps Asians-who live collectively within their means–the US is based on credit and consuming, so almost anyone living here picks up that bad habit no matter what race.

      May 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Teddy

    Why are they called as "whites", when they really aren't ? A majority of them are pale yellow though.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • queenbee10

      Technically, whites are a mutation of Africans–but I don't think they would take kindly to be called mutants. They like calling themselves a color and they also want to call one other group a color too–old habits die hard.

      May 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • soundboard

        I'm sick of this term white. I like to be called European-Asian-African-American. If you can't call me this, I'll sue for racial discrimination because I just became a minority and I'll win. =P

        May 20, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Carl Seaward

    If you are afraid of minority babies out numbering "whites" you need to support Planned Parenthood!

    May 18, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cynthia L.

      You think some of these folks would have figured that out. But, the majority of their work is woman's health and, since white babies mothers are in need of prenatal care to bring a baby to term healthy enough to maybe grow up and make some MORE of those WHITE BABIES! they think it is only minorities that use this vital service. Can you get any dumber than some of the folks on here??

      May 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pamela

    Hey I am a white woman and have four black children too. I love them dearly a daughter and a set of triplet boys.

    May 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fed Up

    Any "guy" can have a kid (although you seem to have chosen the low end of the racial stick) but can you be a father? Does your "black girl" work for a living? And I'm not talking about the part-time shifts at a gas station so she can collect her food stamps and welfare check.

    May 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. historygeek5

    When all the gnashing of teeth over this "trend" ends and we're ready for a rational discussion, this is what it will partially be about: For 400 years Eurocentric culture has an unquestioned monopoly on decision making in America. As a result, there has been no measurable benefit for Anglo-Americas to understand virtually anything about any other culture.

    Simply put, demographic shifts point to an inevitable loss of very longstanding predictability. And, for an awful lot of people that's a very frightening possibility. Because for a lot of people, they'd just about rather die than change "the way they've always done it".

    May 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jk

    I thought 1/2 and 1/2's were called mulato

    May 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • queenbee10

      Only 50% white and 50% black are mulattos but there are more combinations than that–and by law a mulatto is still a black –in fact a person is black until they have less than 1/16 black ancestry in them.

      May 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • chicago7

        Are you people still living in the Jim Crow south or what? Are you kidding??

        May 19, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
      • queenbee10

        just quoting the miscegenation laws chicago, they were put on the books in the 1700s by most states and guess what, they have NEVER been retired from the books–these laws were a given until white women started demanding their mulatto children be recognized as half white–when the majority of mulattos had black mothers, this was not the case nor were any assertions to claiming their white genetics allowed.

        May 21, 2012 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • hispanic American mama

      Mulato is not used much anymore but it is reference to a mixture of Spanish and African genes.
      Meztizo is a term for Spanish and Native American mix also not used much anymore.
      There are white Hispanics like myself who do not consider themselves Latinos as we have no roots in Latin America but in Spain and directly to the US and so I am American first....I do not care about the change in demographics...I just want American children speaking English first and it is okay to be biligual but English should be the primary language for children and their parents....taxpayers should not be forking out money to educate people in foreign tongues if you live in the US you learn in English and you educate yourself in English and you do business in English and keep your second and third languages at home and for later as it will benefit you after college.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
      • queenbee10

        Mulatto was a term coined by and used by white Americans to describe a person who was 50% black and 50% white, the next term was a quadroon indicating 75% white and 25% black and then an octaroon which was 85% white and 15% black–after that, by law a person could call themselves white due to having less than 10% black blood.

        If Hispanics thought Mulatto referred to a Hispanic African mixture it is probably due to them copying the terms of the Americans and being that their majority was automatically Hispanic, they coined the phrase to suit them–but we have to keep in mind that Hispanics are by definition already of mixed races–being indigenous native American and some sort of white European that speaks Spanish as a first language.

        May 21, 2012 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
    • ian

      do you actually know what your genetic heritage is? have you had a test? hehehe, you might be surprise, sweetie ; )

      May 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
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