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With all the media coverage of the refugee children from Central America, it certainly appears that this is another issue that has divided America, and not necessarily along the traditional Democratic - Republican lines of demarcation, although Republicans are largely on one side of the fence. We have two threads that are discussing the topic, but I thought I would start a new one to hopefully broaden people's perspectives with a few articles.
Mark Funkhouser, Governing Institute, January 7, 2103: The Political Future of a Browning America
Pew Research, May 17, 2012: Explaining Why Minority Births Now Outnumber White Births
1. Only 17 percent of the net growth of our country's population from 2000 to 2010 was non-Hispanic white. More than half of our growth in the period was Hispanic. Hispanic immigration accounted for 370,000 or 31 percent of all immigrants in 2010.
2. Asian immigration in 2010 accounted for 430,000 or 36 percent of our new immigrants for just that one year. In fact, Asians were the fastest growing racial demographic group during that 10 year period growing by 46 percent. However, their numbers overall are still relatively small.
3. According to the 2010 census, 49.5 percent of babies under age 1 were minorities (Hispanic, Asian, Black)
4. Non-Hispanic whites have the oldest median age, 42.3, in 2011, according to the population estimates. Hispanics have the youngest, 27.6. Non-Hispanic blacks (32.9) and non-Hispanic Asians (35.9) also are younger than whites.
5. Because of the aging white demographic and higher fertility rates for Hispanics and blacks (2.4 for Hispanics, 2.1 for Blacks, versus 1.8 for whites), the non-Hispanic white population is expected to be a minority (47 percent) of the population by the year 2050. That's just 36 years away.
Does this demographic trend necessarily further compound the great political divide in this country? No. As Funkouser points out, young people are much more adaptable, and their increasing influence "will result in some blurring of the lines between the two parties and a more complex political landscape." The traditional demarcations between Democrats and Republicans may not exist as new lines cut across both parties...or maybe they'll be smudgy lines. And certainly with the graying of the Republican old white men hardliners, they will eventually be a non-factor.
Is this good or bad? I don't see it either way. One of the new lines of demarcation is likely to be young versus old. Right now with the baby boomer generation (of which I'm a part) retiring, we will need more young people to help support us in our retirement. That Social Security trust fund only exists on paper. Ultimately for Social Security and Medicare benefits to be sustained at current levels, it will require an increasingly productive work force or more young workers.
In 2010, the number of workers per Social Security beneficiary
was 3.2. That ratio is expected to decrease to 2.6 by 2020 and 2.2 by 2030. Already there is resentment amongst younger folks who are struggling to pay off college debt and maintain any kind of a "barely making ends meet" lifestyle while also supporting retirees. I see it as an increasing divide in our country that cuts across party lines.
The USA fertility rate
is currently 2.01. Statisticians say for the USA, a rate of 2.1 equates to zero population growth without immigration. So we do need more immigration, and preferably young children. They are adaptable and can learn new languages quickly. The more the better. Central America is a ready identifiable source of young people.
Whatever issues we have in our demographic trends, Europe appears to be even more extreme. The fertility rate in Spain is only 1.48. In Italy 1.42, Greece 1.41. France, however, is 2.08. Many of those countries have aging populations but not enough young people to support them. The answer, of course, is also immigration, but that like the USA immigration gives rise to more racial resentment, especially amongst the older population that sees immigration as a threat to their racial/ethnic purity.
I am not trying to change anyone's minds. Just stimulate thinking that the influx of children from Central America can be a good thing for America, and especially us baby boomer generation that need more young people to support us in retirement.