The face of mainstream America continues to change, and by 2044 white people of European descent with be a minority in America. They currently make up about two thirds of the population, but change is irreversible and happening fast. America is an international force both politically and economically, so changes to its makeup will affect all of us.
This story is about white decline, rather than increased immigration. We acknowledged this phenomenon on this blog back in 2013 when demographer William Frey commented that the slow decline of the white population will “characterise this century” of American history. In a similar article in 2012, I cited an article in the New Scientist that month which warned that the “wealthy, ageing white population of America must be prepared to invest in young Hispanics” to protect their own “golden future”.
This month The Economist is again grappling with a future which involves the current population of 57 million Hispanics in America doubling by mid-century. Have a listen to its interview with David Rennie who is author of a new special report on Hispanics in America.
Rennie makes the point that if Hispanics all suddenly up and left America, school yards would empty (1 in 4 children in school is currently Hispanic), and so would maternity wards. America would look a lot more like Japan and Germany in terms of an aging population with very low fertility. For this reason, some might say America is blessed to have its more fertile, younger Hispanic citizens to help to work to support an elderly white population.
As white people of European descent become a minority, it will change who a mainstream ‘average American’ is – in the past this has been Anglo Protestant. While Hispanics in America will likely still learn English, mainstream American English will be spoken with a slight Latino accent. The mainstream will also incorporate more Spanish customs, and be multicultural as a norm.
Cultural changes to the way your average American interacts with family may come as a real positive. Many mainstream Americans today are anxious about how individualistic life has become. Family ties are weakening and loneliness increasing. Hispanic culture is generally much more into family life and multi-generational living, and this is likely to have an effect on the overall culture of America.
Some worry there will soon be a cultural generational clash between an unusually white old baby boomer population and the large number of young Latinos in school and entering the workforce. However, economic self-interest might overcome this if the elderly realise that it is the working population that supports them and it is better to work together. Hopefully mutual understanding and support will also motivate people to share and create resources as best they can.
The change is happening so fast that in Texas, for example, Hispanic workers will soon outnumber white workers 3:1. If the state is to stay economically prosperous, Hispanic worked need to be supported to be well educated and proficient in the workforce. The change is not going to go away, so the task is to make it work.