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.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Dose of Demographic Reality About the US

David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times, has a generally conservative bent, so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I started reading his column today titled "A Nation of Mutts." But, in fact, he walked his readers through the reality of modern America--a nation composed of people from a lot of different origins who, thankfully, tend to intermingle and intermarry (thus, the "mutts"--this is a good thing, not a pejorative term).
If you grew up between 1950 and 1985, you grew up at a time when only about 5 percent or 6 percent of American residents were foreign born. Today, roughly 13 percent of American residents are foreign born, and we’re possibly heading to 15 percent.
Of course, he neglects to mention that if you grew up between 1900 and 1930, you grew up when about 14 percent of American residents were foreign-born. We are going back to our roots, in that sense.
Moreover, up until now, America was primarily an outpost of European civilization. Between 1830 and 1880, 80 percent of the immigrants came from Northern and Western Europe. Over the following decades, the bulk came from Southern and Central Europe. In 1960, 75 percent of the foreign-born population came from Europe, with European ideas and European heritage.
Soon, we will no longer be an outpost of Europe, but a nation of mutts, a nation with hundreds of fluid ethnicities from around the world, intermarrying and intermingling. Americans of European descent are already a minority among 5-year-olds. European-Americans will be a minority over all in 30 years at the latest, and probably sooner.
This, of course, is true, and it came about after President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation ending decades of a deliberately racist exclusionary immigration policy.
On the whole, this future is exciting. The challenge will be to create a global civilization that is, at the same time, distinctly American. Immigration reform or not, the nation of mutts is coming.
In most respects, we started out that way. Early Europeans did not see themselves as a homogenous group. English, Germans, Irish, Italians, Poles--you name it--all eventually came together to create the earlier version of the mutt-society.

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