Apr 29, 2019

America's majority minority future

Expand chart
Data: IPUMS NHGIS, University of Minnesota, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

By 2045, the U.S. as a whole is projected to become majority minority. And the changes are already underway: non-white Americans are now the majority of the population in four states, as well as in the most prosperous and powerful U.S. cities.

Why it matters: The U.S. faces two possible futures: a thriving nation that embraces its new demographic makeup, or an escalation of fighting, racism and xenophobia.

By the numbers: Since 2010, non-Hispanic white people have become the minority in 32 more U.S. counties — for a total of 372 counties, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The trends are largely due to a rise in Hispanic and Asian immigrants as well as slightly higher birth rates among non-whites.

  • Next year, the entire under-18 population will be majority non-white, according to William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer and author of "Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America."
  • In less than a decade, the population under 30 will be majority non-white.

The demographic shifts are already having an impact on our national identity, politics and the generational gap, according to sociologists and demographers who have studied the trends.

National identity: The U.S. has made significant strides toward structurally equal rights, but in practice, there's still a long way to go.

  • There's been renewed racial tension and anti-immigrant sentiment over the past few years. White Americans often feel threatened by growing diversity, according to research by Jennifer Richeson, a social psychologist at Yale University.
  • A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 59% of Republicans and 46% of whites said a majority non-white population will weaken American culture.

"[We] have to come up with a narrative that realizes and accepts that the U.S. is an immigrant nation. ... We're denying that," says Monica Toft, a professor of international politics at the The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

  • It's also important for diversifying communities to ensure equal rights for all people and have an inclusive identity so they can thrive, says George Mason University's Justin Gest, who has studied nations and states that have become majority minority.

Politics: One big problem is that politicians capitalize on polarization.

  • As we saw with President Trump's election, a focus on the shrinking non-Hispanic white population has spurred anxiety in a large number of white voters.
"The panic translates into an effective voting block that has high anxiety about immigration, diversity and religious issues."
— Jack Goldstone, Hazel professor of public policy at George Mason University

Studies have shown that younger generations and minorities are more likely to lean toward the Democrats. But demographers said the demographic trends might not necessarily favor the Democratic Party in the long run.

  • Many white, Hispanic Americans have more conservative values, Goldstone said. If the GOP shifts and learns to embrace more Hispanic voters, it could be a source of new energy for the party.
  • And as immigrant minorities assimilate, "they may turn out to vote more like whites," said Richard Alba, a sociologist and professor at the City University of New York. "It’s not so immediately clear that the demographics really favor Democrats."

The generational gap: Studies have found that older voters and taxpayers tend to be less supportive of education and other issues that impact young people. As the youth looks less like the elderly voters in the community, this dynamic could worsen, according to Frey.

  • Much will depend on millennials, who have become a generational bridge between the older, majority-white population and the younger, more diverse generation to come, Frey says.
  • These younger generations are also more likely to be biracial than ever before. People of two or more races are projected to be the fastest growing racial or ethnic group over the next several decades, according to the Census Bureau.

What to watch: This trend, along with an increase in the white Hispanic population —people who are racially white, but with Spanish or Latin American origins — could change the entire conversation about race in the U.S.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,273,402 — Total deaths: 375,683 — Total recoveries — 2,697,873Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,811,277 — Total deaths: 105,147 — Total recoveries: 458,231 — Total tested: 17,340,682Map.
  3. Public health: Nearly 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been reported to federal health officials —Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country.
  4. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  5. World: Former FDA commissioner says "this is not the time" to cut ties with WHO.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The virus didn't go away.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

St. John's clergy: Trump used church as prop, Bible as symbol of division

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Clergy of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church expressed furor and confusion over President Trump's visit on Monday, which he claimed was to honor the establishment after George Floyd protestors sparked a small fire on the property Sunday night.

The big picture: Park rangers and military police deployed tear gas and physical force to disperse peaceful protestors from Lafayette Park, which surrounds the White House, so Trump could walk to "pay respects" to the church — and a St. John's rector on the scene revealed in a Facebook post that she was left "coughing" from the tear gas.