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.