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Over half of U.S. babies born last year were non-white

David Brancaccio May 17, 2012

David Brancaccio: In a development that is changing society as well as marketing, the Census Bureau says that for the first time, most babies born in the U.S. were not white.  That’s babies born last year. The general population is not expected to become mostly “minority” for about another 33 years.

William Frey is chief demographer at the Brookings Institution. Mr. Frey, thanks for joining us.

William Frey: Good to be with you, David.

Brancaccio: Do you see this as a kind of tipping point? Do you think it’s going to persist, given data that, for instance, immigration from Mexico has slowed to a near halt — possibly because of the weak economy in the U.S.?

Frey: Well, most of the growth of the Hispanic population right now is births to Hispanics that are already here, so there’s kind of a momentum of continued Hispanic births, as well as Asians and other new minorities in the United States. You know, I think once the economy picks up, there’ll be a little more immigration from Mexico. But I also think that there are going to be people coming to the U.S. from all over the world, and many of them are people we would think of as “minorities.”

Brancaccio: The picture had been generally white and Baby Boom, and now the picture that’s emerging is quite different.

Frey: Yeah, this is the passing of the torch I guess you could say. I mean, if you look at the population over age 50, the biggest minority population there are African-Americans. But still, it’s about 70 and more percent white for all those age groups. If you look at the population below age 30 in the United States, the biggest minority group are Hispanics, but also Asians add and blacks add. And as you go down the age structure, if becomes even more diverse.

So I think this is a new era, and in fact, as we move into the next couple of decades, we’ll see that the youthful, more globalized population that we have here will be very different than if you look at Nick at Nite, or one of those TV shows — “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best” or something like that; because the Baby Boomers were that age.

Brancaccio: William Frey, demographer at Brookings. Thank you very much.

Frey: Sure, happy to do it.



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