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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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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Thursday, June 21, 2018

White Deaths Exceed White Births in 26 States

Thanks again to Professor Rubén Rumbaut for linking me to NYTimes story about a new study just out by another long-time friend, Professor (well, actually Dean) Rogelio Sáenz at the University of Texas, San Antonio. He and another demographer, Professor Kenneth Johnson, published a Research Brief for the Applied Population Lab at the University of Wisconsin that tells an important part of the story about changing American demographics. Sabrina Tavernise of the NYTimes provides a good summary:
Deaths now outnumber births among white people in more than half the states in the country, demographers have found, signaling what could be a faster-than-expected transition to a future in which whites are no longer a majority of the American population.
The Census Bureau has projected that whites could drop below 50 percent of the population around 2045, a relatively slow-moving change that has been years in the making. But a new report this week found that whites are dying faster than they are being born now in 26 states, up from 17 just two years earlier, and demographers say that shift might come even sooner.
“It’s happening a lot faster than we thought,” said Rogelio Sáenz, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a co-author of the report. It examines the period from 1999 to 2016 using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the federal agency that tracks births and deaths. He said he was so surprised at the finding that at first he thought it was a mistake.
Here is the picture state-by-state:

Before we decide how this affect the future politics of the United States, we have to account for a couple of things. The first is that many births are to parents of different race/ethnicity. Thus intermarriage--which is historically what the melting pot is all about--could affect cultural and political attitudes in unpredictable ways. And, secondly, as I noted in discussing Wong's book about the demographics of immigrants and evangelicals, you cannot automatically assume a person's political views from their race/ethnicity. 

UPDATE: When thinking about these data keep in mind the authors' note that: "NCHS data do not allow for classification of multiple-race births or deaths—so all births are classified into one race category, that of the infant's mother; the race and Hispanic origin of the infant's father are not considered." For more on why this matters, see this more recent blog post of mine.

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