March 30, 2010

Cornell Professor Shows That Minority Groups Are Becoming Majority

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The “minority” may soon be called the majority.

According to a recently published study by Prof. Daniel Lichter, sociology, and Prof. Kenneth Johnson, sociology, University of New Hampshire, minorities grew to 43 percent of all children and youth in 2008. This number is up from 38.5 percent only eight years earlier.

Lichter said he believes the numbers will only continue to grow.

“We are going to become more and more racially diverse. The younger, racially and ethnically diverse population will replace the older white population in future generations,” Lichter said.

The growth of racial diversity is, according to the study, “distributed unevenly over geographical space.” More than 500 counties, nearly one in six, in the U.S. have minority youth populations that are actually the majority.

The reason for this increase in minority youth populations seems to be driven by two demographic forces, according to Lichter.

The first is the rapid increase of minority children, with Hispanics accounting for 80 percent of growth since 2000. According to the study, “Minority immigration and fertility have had significant and mutually reinforcing effects on America’s racial and ethnic composition.”

The second is the steady decline of non-Hispanic white children and youths.

Lichter said he believes that the growth in fertility and immigration could mark other changes for the future.

“In doing the study we were also interested in racial inequality and its connection with the changing demographics. Racial inequality now is going to translate into racial inequality in the future and transcend to the more diverse adult population,” Lichter said.

These changes have sparked much interest among demographers given the contrast of adult racial diversity with youth racial diversity.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2009, white adults (20 years and over) accounted for almost 69 percent of the population while minority adults accounted for 31 percent. White youth (younger than 20 years of age), however, accounted for just 56 percent of the population, while minority youth comprised 43 percent of the population.

Lichter believes that youth are the best place to start when gauging diversity growth in the U.S.

“I’ve done a lot of research over my career on racial issues and I was interested in America as a post racial society,” said Lichter, “I think children harbor the future; they will be the ones having the most impact on race and ethnicity.”

Original Author: Erika Hooker