This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

US Census Data Highlight the Growing Diversity

The US Census Bureau is in the process of releasing the first set of detailed data from the 2010 Census that are required for congressional redistricting, and each new release of data generates headlines (often with a good quote from William Frey at the Brookings Institution). This past Thursday the race/ethnic data by state were made available and they highlight a now common theme in the United States--immigration patterns since the 1965 changes to the immigration law, combined with high levels of undocumented immigration--have produced an ever more ethnically diverse society.

The result has been a changed American landscape, with whites now a minority of the youth population in 10 states, including Arizona, where tensions over immigration have flared, said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
“This is a huge demographic transformation,” Mr. Frey said. “A cultural generation gap is emerging.”
The growing divide between a diverse young population and an aging white population raises some potentially tricky policy questions. Will older whites be willing to allocate money to educate a younger generation that looks less like their own children than ever before? How will a diverse young generation handle growing needs for aging whites?
The rapid change has infused political debates, and they have been noisiest in the states with the largest gaps.
Arizona is the leader, with whites accounting for just 42 percent of its young people, compared with 83 percent of its residents 65 and older, according to Mr. Frey. Over all, the state’s Hispanic population nearly tripled between 1990 and 2009, and is now a third of all residents. Nevada ranks second in the gap between aging whites and diverse youth, Mr. Frey said.
A very nice visualization of this process can be seen by visiting a new website hosted by the National Geographic to display the geographic diversity in the most common surnames. Spanish surnames, for example, now dominate the American southwest. The group at University College London that created this map also has been mapping names for other parts of the world.

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