- White people in America are dying off at a faster rate than they are being born
- For the first time in U.S. history, more white people died than were born in 2016
- Data indicates white people could be a minority sooner than previously thought
More white people died than were born in 26 states in the U.S. in 2016 – a first in American history that indicates white people could be edging toward becoming a minority sooner than previously thought, according to a new analysis of U. S. Census data.
The numbers are significant compared to 2004 when white deaths exceeded births in just four states, or even just two years earlier in 2014 when the shift occurred in 17 states.
White deaths have also surpassed white births nationwide for the first time ever in 2016, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
‘We were really surprised,’ said Rogelio Saenz, co-author of the analysis and dean of the College of Public Policy at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
‘When births fail to keep pace with deaths, a region is said to have a “natural decrease” in population, which can only be offset by migration gains,’ according to the new report by The Applied Population Laboratory that analyzed the national data. ‘The growing incidence of this white natural decrease has important implications for the nation’s demographic future. America is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.’
Whites accounted for nearly 78 percent of all deaths in America in 2016 – but only 53 percent of births.
By comparison, there has been a ‘substantial’ increase in Latino births over deaths – and that coupled with immigration trends have ‘contributed enormously’ to the changing demographics in the U.S., according to the report, which looks at trends during the period from 1999-2016.
In addition, only three states had more deaths than births overall, across racial lines – indicating the trend is really among the white population. Comparatively, African Americans only saw a decline in one state – West Virginia. Similarly, Asians and Pacific Islanders only saw the decline in Hawaii.
Meanwhile, Latino births exceeded deaths in every state in the nation.
But birth rates are falling among all races, and a bigger issue could be the lack of young people to support aging baby boomers, said Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California.
‘We have a shortage of babies being born (overall),’ Myers said. ‘Without immigrants we’re really in the hole. We should be grateful for the contribution of those mothers.’
Other factors contributing to the decrease in the white population include the aging Baby Boomer population and the decline and delay of young people deciding to have children in the wake of the Great Recession.
The shift started nearly 20 years ago in states with a high proportion of aging white people (think Pennsylvania and West Virginia). It was accelerated after the economic downturn of 2008 when births started dropping off and white mortality started increasing – in part due to the opiate crisis.
The ongoing evolution of the racial makeup of this country could alter the American social and political landscape – though it’s not clear how.
‘People say demographics is destiny and there’ll be more people of color — all that is true,’ said Jennifer Richeson, a social psychologist at Yale University, in an interview with the New York Times. ‘But they also say the U.S. is going to become more progressive, and we don’t know that. We should not assume that white moderates and liberals will maintain current political allegiances, nor should we expect that the so-called nonwhite group is going to work in any kind of coalition.’
The 26 states where white deaths now exceed births were evenly divided in the last election – 13 for Hillary Clinton and 13 for Trump.