Thursday, August 14, 2008

In a Generation, U.S. to Look Older and More Diverse

According to U.S. Census Bureau projections released on Thursday, ethnic and racial minorities will be the majority in America and the number of people older than 65 is expected to more than double.

Currently, minorities constitute about a third of the U.S. population. They are projected to become the majority, making up more than half by 2042, and 54 percent by 2050. Furthermore, more than half of all children will be minorities by 2023. This is primarily due to the higher fertility rate for some of the minority groups, especially immigrants, and an influx of foreigners in the U.S. from 1.3 annually today to more than 2 million a year by 2050. The U.S. is expected to top 400 million in 2039 and reach 439 million in 2050. By 2030, all baby boomers will be age 65 and older, constituting nearly one in five Americans. By 2050, the 65-and-older age group will increase to 88.5 million, more than doubling its current number of 38.7 million.

The Hispanic population, which will have the most dramatic gain, will nearly triple from 47 million to 133 million. They will account for 30 percent of Americans, compared to 15 percent today. The African-American population is projected to increase from 41.1 million to 65.7 million by 2050, going from 14 percent of the U.S. population to 15 percent. The Asian-American population is expected to increase from 15.5 million to 40.6 million, or from 5.1 percent to 9.2 percent of the population. The number of U.S. residents identifying themselves as multiracial is expected to more than triple, from 5.2 to 16.2 million. There will not be significant gains in the non-Hispanic white population, reducing its share of the overall population from 66 to 46 percent.

These projections may stir more anti-immigrant furor and more legislation, such as the English as the Official Language Act, which is likely fueled by apprehension that America is losing its official language, traditions and demographic makeup. In the future, it means that whites will be more interested in health care and pensions issues and the minority population will be more interested in education and children’s issues.

Given this information, it would appear to be in the best interest of aging whites to advocate for more education and health care programs for minority children. As whites age, they will become increasingly dependent upon a minority workforce. They should support political candidates that advocate for increased funding for Head Start, GEAR UP, Upward Bound and other programs that ensure that minority children are adequately prepared for higher education and are equip with the skills necessary to become productive adults.

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