Minorities make up nearly half the children born in the U.S., part of a historic trend in which minorities are expected to become the U.S. majority over the next 40 years.
In fact, demographers say this year could be the “tipping point” when the number of babies born to minorities outnumbers that of babies born to whites.
The numbers are growing because immigration to the U.S. has boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years. Minorities made up 48 percent of U.S. children born in 2008, the latest census estimates available, compared to 37 percent in 1990.
The numbers highlight the nation’s growing racial and age divide, seen in pockets of communities across the U.S., which could heighten tensions in current policy debates from immigration reform and education to health care and Social Security.
Whites currently make up two-thirds of the total U.S. population, and recent census estimates suggest the number of minorities may not overtake the number of whites until 2050.
Right now, roughly 1 in 10 of the nation’s 3,142 counties already have minority populations greater than 50 percent. But 1 in 4 communities have more minority children than white children or are nearing that point, according to the study, which Johnson co-published.
That is because Hispanic women on average have three children, while other women on average have two. The numbers are 2.99 children for Hispanics, 1.87 for whites, 2.13 for blacks and 2.04 for Asians in the U.S. And the number of white women of prime childbearing age is on the decline, dropping 19 percent from 1990.
The 2008 census estimates used local records of births and deaths, tax records of people moving within the U.S., and census statistics on immigrants. The figures for “white” refer to those whites who are not of Hispanic ethnicity.