Posted on April 7, 2011

New Faces of Childhood

Conor Dougherty, Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2011

America’s child population grew more far diverse over the past decade as a decline in the ranks of white children was offset by surging growth of Asians and Hispanics.

All told in 2010, the Census Bureau counted 74.2 million people under age 18, up 1.9 million from 2000.


The number of non-Hispanic whites fell in 46 states and 86 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. In 10 states, white children are now a minority among their peers, including six that tipped between 2000 and 2010. Others will follow soon: In 23 states, minorities make up more than 40% of the child population.

The number of black and Native American children declined as well, but by a far smaller degree than whites, according to an analysis of 2010 Census data to be released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington. The Census Bureau released the first results of its once-a-decade head count of U.S. residents, regardless of citizenship, late last year; over subsequent months, Census released state and local data.


The data show the extent to which the U.S. has become dependent on minorities–Hispanics in particular–for the next generation of Americans. From 2000 to 2010, almost half of states saw a decline in the number of children.

Without Hispanics, America’s under-18 population would have declined between 2000 and 2010. And in places that did see an increase, Hispanics accounted for most of the growth. In Texas, the state with the largest population gain over the decade, Hispanics accounted for 95% of the growth among the population under age 18.


{snip} The number of non-Hispanic white children fell by 4.3 million over the decade. {snip} Meantime, the number of Hispanic and Asian children grew by 5.5 million, with 4.8 million of those Hispanic.

Part of the decline in white children is a result of an increase in mixed-race children, who remain a tiny share of the overall population but grew 46%–or roughly 900,000–between 2000 and 2010.


The changing makeup of the U.S. could play a significant role in setting national priorities, especially as Washington grapples with debt obligations that are sparking fights over which entitlement programs to cut and by how much.