Racial Gap Widening Among Generations

By The News May 17, 2007

We knew this already but here are some specifics: "The Census Bureau estimated yesterday that from July 1, 2005, to July 1, 2006, the nation’s minority population grew to 100.7 million from 98.3 million," the New York Times reported Thursday. "That is about one in three of all Americans. The new figures also suggest that many states are growing more diverse as minorities disperse." While 80 percent of people over 60 are white, only 58 percent of people under 19 are–marking an " emerging racial generation gap." The Times seem a bit behind the times reporting this story using outmoded terms such as "minority." But then it does a good job of summarizing some data, and finding that:

–As a result of immigration and higher birthrates among many newcomers, the number of Hispanics grew by 3.4 percent nationwide and Asians by 3.2 percent. Meanwhile, the black population rose by 1.3 percent, and that of non-Hispanic whites by 0.3 percent. (The number of American Indians and Alaska Natives increased by 1 percent, and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by 1.7 percent.) –More than 20 percent of children in the United States either are foreign-born or have a parent who was born abroad. Nearly half the children under age 5 are Hispanic, black or Asian. –Over all, the median age of Americans reached 36.6 years, another record high. It ranged from 27.4 among Hispanics to 40.5 among non-Hispanic whites. –The census counted more than 73,000 centenarians (about 14,000 men and 59,000 women) and also 78 million baby boomers (those born from 1946 to 1964), who, as they turn 60, are helping to drive the racial generation gap.

The NYTimes story doesn’t make any analytical claims about what all this will mean for policy and social change. But the same story in the L.A. Times does:

Gaete and others said the nation’s increasingly diverse population would probably have a significant effect on politics and public policy because minorities tend to vote differently than whites. In California, minority voters have shown "systematic differences" from whites in their electoral choices, with more support for more generous immigration policies, taxation and public investment in schools, according to Dowell Myers, a USC professor of urban planning and demographics. He said the difference is partly rooted in the fact that minorities are younger, with a greater personal stake in public schools, for instance.