Wall Street Journal reports growth of Asian and Hispanic children

The following article printed in the Wall Street Journal highlights the population growth of Hispanic and Asian children.  The author notes a transformation across the country with this emerging young demographic.  Cultural diversity is growing throughout the United States and this young Hispanic and Asian population is expected to shape the political agenda in the years to come.

New Faces of Childhood

Census Shows Hispanic and Asian Children Surging as Whites, Blacks Shrink

The Wall Street Journal
April 6, 2011

America’s child population grew more far diverse over the past decade as a decline in the ranks of white children was offset by surging growth of Asians and Hispanics.

All told in 2010, the Census Bureau counted 74.2 million people under age 18, up 1.9 million from 2000.

The number of non-Hispanic whites fell in 46 states and 86 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. In 10 states, white children are now a minority among their peers, including six that tipped between 2000 and 2010. Others will follow soon: In 23 states, minorities make up more than 40% of the child population.

The number of black and Native American children declined as well, but by a far smaller degree than whites, according to an analysis of 2010 Census data to be released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington. The Census Bureau released the first results of its once-a-decade head count of U.S. residents, regardless of citizenship, late last year; over subsequent months, Census released state and local data.

The report reflects a transformation under way in the country’s racial and ethnic makeup.

“It’s a new melting pot in the United States,” said William Frey, a demographer at Brookings who wrote the report. “This is the beginning of how our country will look.”

The data show the extent to which the U.S. has become dependent on minorities—Hispanics in particular—for the next generation of Americans. From 2000 to 2010, almost half of states saw a decline in the number of children.

Without Hispanics, America’s under-18 population would have declined between 2000 and 2010. And in places that did see an increase, Hispanics accounted for most of the growth. In Texas, the state with the largest population gain over the decade, Hispanics accounted for 95% of the growth among the population under age 18.

Most Hispanic children have parents of Mexican origin. The origins of the Asian children are fairly evenly split, with five countries—China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Korea—accounting for about 80%, according to Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center.

The Asian population is concentrated along the West coast and in metropolitan areas while Latinos live in rural and urban areas across 50 states, according to Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

From 2000 to 2010, Hispanics and Asians were the driving force behind growth in the under-18 population. The number of non-Hispanic white children fell by 4.3 million over the decade. Children in two other longstanding U.S. minority groups, blacks and Native Americans, also saw small decreases. Meantime, the number of Hispanic and Asian children grew by 5.5 million, with 4.8 million of those Hispanic.

Part of the decline in white children is a result of an increase in mixed-race children, who remain a tiny share of the overall population but grew 46%–or roughly 900,000—between 2000 and 2010.

The Census population counts don’t specify how much change came from births compared with immigration.

Shifts in the youth population’s racial makeup suggest the U.S. could become a “majority-minority” nation—where non-Hispanic whites account for less than half of the population—before the 2042 date that the Census Bureau has estimated in the past, according to Mr. Frey. This has already spelled big changes in the nation’s schools, where the black-white divide of the past has become a more complex mix of race, language and religion.

The changing makeup of the U.S. could play a significant role in setting national priorities, especially as Washington grapples with debt obligations that are sparking fights over which entitlement programs to cut and by how much.

“Politically, an age-race divide could create even sharper divisions between candidates and parties that espouse more or less government support for measures benefiting the young, like education or affordable housing, and those benefiting the old, like Social Security or Medicare,” Mr. Frey wrote in the report.

Write to Conor Dougherty at conor.dougherty@wsj.com