Deaths exceed births among white Americans for first time ever

Demographers say non-Hispanic whites will be a minority in America by 2050

Topics: Race, ethnicity, Demographics, Politics, economy, White people, , ,

Deaths exceed births among white Americans for first time ever (Credit: Shutterstock)

There were more recorded deaths than births among non-Hispanic white Americans for the first time in 2012, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau estimates.

The difference was tiny — there were just 12,400 more deaths than births — but part of a significant trend toward greater diversity in the United States; demographers predict that white Americans will become a statistical minority by 2050.

Growing racial and ethnic diversity means that immigrants and young people of color will be in large part subsidizing America’s aging population, as USA Today notes:

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, says the nation’s non-Hispanic white population inevitably will shrink.

He predicts that white retirees “will be on the receiving end of an economy which will be fueled largely by the efforts of Hispanics, blacks and Asians,” whose birth-to-death ratios are not headed in the same direction.

Frey sees the next few decades as “almost an inversion of the 20th century, when the white middle class was the engine of our demographic and economic growth.”

In this century, he says, the USA’s young people are “from Mexico and Guatemala and China and India — and I think that’s going to be one of our challenges this century, having a large part of the old Baby Boom understand it’s the young people who are really their benefactors.”

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Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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