National Data | From Your Friendly Federal Government—The Coming White Minority

Whites are the largest racial group in the U.S., but their grip on that status is weak by historic standards and is rapidly getting weaker. Of the country's total 296 million residents in 2005, about 198 million, or 67 percent, identified themselves as white and non-Hispanic.

As recently as 1990 76 percent of Americans called themselves non-Hispanic white.

It's not that the white population is declining (yet). Minority groups are increasing more rapidly—basically due to immigration policy.

Here are U.S. population growth figures for the period between July 1, 2004 and July 1, 2005:

  • Total population: +2.8 million, or 1.3 percent

 

  • Non-Hispanic whites: +500,000, or 0.3 percent

 

  • Blacks: +496,000, or 1.3 percent

 

  • Hispanics: +1.3 million, or 3.3 percent

Hispanics accounted for almost half (49 percent) of U.S. population growth in 2005. Of the 1.3 million Hispanic population increase, 500,000 was due to immigration (legal and illegal), and 800,000 was from natural increase—the excess of births over deaths.

Warning: Census Bureau population estimates historically underestimate the magnitude of illegal—mainly Hispanic—immigration. Accordingly, the official figure—500,000 Hispanic immigrants in 2005—may be way too low. Illegal immigration alone has been put at more than 1 million per year, with most of it coming in over the southern border.

But even the immigration-blind Census Bureau can't miss the implications of demographics, e.g., the disproportionate fraction of Hispanic women in prime child-bearing ages, and their high birth rates—on future population growth.

Here are the Census Bureau's projections for 2000 to 2050:

  • Total population: +138 million, or 49 percent

 

  • non-Hispanic, whites: +15 million, or 7 percent

 

  • Blacks: +36 million, or 72 percent

 

  • Hispanics: +67 million, or 188 percent

 

  • Asians: +23 million, or 213 percent

The nation's Hispanic population will triple over the next half century and non-Hispanic whites   will represent about half of  the total population, according to Census Bureau   projections.

By 2050 nearly one-quarter (24.4 percent) of the U.S. population will be Hispanic. Put differently, the nation's Hispanic population share at mid-century will resemble Nevada's (22.8 percent Hispanic) and Arizona's  (28 percent Hispanic) today.

Even more striking is the absolute decline in non-Hispanic white population which the Census Bureau says will start in the 2040s. This projection assumes that:

  1. white mothers continue having an average of only 1.8 children over their lifetime (versus the 2.1 "replacement" rate required to maintain a stable population over the course of a generation), and

 

  1. that white immigration continues at current levels—200,000 per year. 

From a global perspective, the U.S. will still be an oasis of "whiteness". Whites account for only about 9 percent of the world's population, according to demographer Harold Hodgkinson. [Nat Irvin II, "America's Increasing Diversity," Futurist, March/April 2004(PDF)] But unfettered globalization eventually brings convergence—in incomes and in demographics.

A single-digit White population share in America?

Our grandchildren could well see it—if public policy continues on its present course.

Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.