Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Minority Majority: Not So Fast

A few months ago there was quite a hullabaloo when the Census Bureau's population estimates showed minorities to be the majority among the nation's newborns for the first time, with non-Hispanic whites accounting for only 49.6 percent of births between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011. But the bureau may have been getting ahead of itself and not accounting for the ongoing baby bust, which has affected Hispanics and blacks more than non-Hispanic whites.

According to estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics, non-Hispanic whites accounted for the 54 percent majority of babies born in the United States in 2010 and 2011--a considerably larger share than had been estimated. The reason for the larger-than-expected non-Hispanic white share of births is the Great Recession and its disproportionate impact on the childbearing of Hispanic women and, to a lesser extent, black women.

The fertility rate of Hispanic women plummeted between 2007 and 2011, falling from 97.4 to 75.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44--a 22 percent decline. The fertility rate of non-Hispanic black women fell 8 percent during those years--from 71.4 to 65.5. Meanwhile, non-Hispanic white fertility fell by a smaller 4 percent, from 61.0 to 58.8. Consequently, the Hispanic share of births is shrinking rather than growing. Hispanics accounted for 23 percent of births in 2011, down from 25 percent in 2007 and well below the 26 percent that had been estimated by the Census Bureau. The minority majority will get here, just not as soon as we thought.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Preliminary Data for 2011

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