Racial Mismatch: Will White Seniors Support Today’s Youth of Color?

By Carla Murphy Jan 16, 2015

A new article by Stateline’s Teresa Wiltz begins with a provocative wealth and political disparity: "Nearly 80 percent of seniors in the U.S. are white–while nearly half of people younger than 18 are black, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern or multiracial." Older and younger citizens obviously have different political interests–one prefers jobs training, the other, better roads. But add a racial mismatch and those generational differences widen, with critical implications for present state spending and the nation’s future. Take school funding, a priority for youth of color (and their parents). Wiltz writes:

"Since the late 1990s, researchers have found that when faced with a young population that looks markedly different from their own, Americans are more likely to vote "no" on local tax referendums to finance public school education and are more likely to support spending cuts. This is particularly true when the older population is predominantly white and the school-age population is not, according to a 2012 working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research

And according to sociology professor Manuel Pastor "states with the largest gaps also spend less on mass transit and are more likely to pass restrictive immigration laws." (The racial generation gap is widest in the Sunbelt states: Arizona, New Mexico, California and Nevada.)

If relatively wealthier white generations fail to prepare and invest in today’s growing proportion of youth of color, experts predict devastating longterm consequences for the nation. Read more in Stateline.