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White population falls below 60% amid browning of America

White population falls below 60% amid browning of America

(This story originally appeared in on Aug 12, 2021)

The browning of America is accelerating with the white population in the country is poised to drop below 60 per cent for the first time in its history even as people of color add to its numbers, according to latest US census data.

The trend, which has white nationalists in the country agitated, is mostly on account of white people having fewer children and starting their families at a later age than other groups, in a development demographers call “baby bust.” White nativists though attribute it largely to immigration.

According to census data, the white population has declined by more than 1 million over the last four years, wiping out their modest population growth from 2010 to 2016. The pace of the decrease is now accelerating.

While white population fell by an estimated 129,000 people between 2016 and 2017, the decline sped up to 482,000 between 2019 to 2020, resulting in an overall decline of nearly a million whites in decade of 2010-2020. Demographers say the 2010s could be the first decade when the nation’s white population registered an absolute loss, going down from 63.8 per cent to 59.7 per cent between July 2010 and July 2020.

The browning of America is being fueled primarily by minority groups, particularly Hispanic or Latino Americans who grew by at least 1 million in eight of the last 10 years, and overall by 10.5 million between 2010 and 2020. Asian-Americans too grew by about half a million in seven of the last 10 years, going up by 4.7 million over the decade. African-Americans registered a slower growth, expanding by 300,000 in eight of the last 10 years, for an estimated 3.4 million increase since the 2010 census.

But while the Latino and Black growth came mainly on account of natural growth from people already living in the US who are giving birth, Asian-Americans were the only demographic group to experience more growth from immigration — 3.3 million people — than from natural increase — 1.2 million. Among Latino or Hispanic-Americans, about three-quarters of the population added over the last decade came from natural increase, and the remaining quarter from immigration.

The growth in coloured population and the concurrent decline in white population in the US came during the Trump years when immigration became a hot button issue.

“All of the US population growth from 2016 to 2020 comes from gains in people of color. The statistics… imply that, as the white population ages and declines further, racial and ethnic persity will be the hallmark demographic feature of America’s younger generations,” Brooking Institution‘s Senior Fellow William Frey, who reviewed the census data, wrote in a paper.

Frey noted that at the state level, 30 states lost white population over the 2016-2020 period, with the greatest losses registered by California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Among the 20 states that gained white population over this period were Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, and Idaho.

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