History > 2009 > USA > Demographics (I)
Projections Put Whites in Minority
in U.S. by 2050
December 18, 2009
The New York Times
By SAM ROBERTS
Without new immigrants, by the middle of the century the nation’s population
would begin to decline, the elderly would account for nearly one in four
Americans and non-Hispanic whites would remain a majority, according to new
projections by the Census Bureau.
But if immigration were to merely slow down, rather than stop, non-Hispanic
whites, who now account for nearly two-thirds of the population, would become a
minority by 2050, according to the projections. If the pace of immigration
increases, that benchmark could be reached as early as 2040.
Depending on the pace of international migration, the nation’s population, 308
million currently, could grow to as much as 458 million by midcentury, with
immigrants accounting for up to 136 million of the increase.
Since 2000, the nation’s population has been growing by just under one million
immigrants annually. The bureau’s lower estimates assume a range of 1.1 million
to 1.8 million; the higher estimates range from 1.5 million to 2.4 million.
Even if no new immigrants arrived, said William H. Frey, a demographer with the
Brookings Institution, the Hispanic share of the population would rise from
about 14 percent in 2010 to between 21 percent (with no further immigration) and
31 percent (with the highest projected immigration) in 2050.
Similarly, without any immigration, minorities would still constitute a majority
of the population under age 5 in 2050, because of higher birth rates among
Hispanic people already living here. If immigration continues, black, Hispanic
and Asian children will become a majority of young children sometime between
2019 and 2023, according to the latest projections.
People 65 and over would constitute more than one in five Americans by
midcentury under all of the projections except for zero immigration.
Without immigration, the nation’s labor force would decline by 7 million people,
mostly between 2015 and 2035, as baby boomers start to retire. Continuing
immigration would add between 31 million and 64 million people to the labor
“The availability of work in agriculture, construction, and manufacturing has
attracted millions of low-skilled workers from Latin America, especially
Mexico,” said Mark Mather, the associate vice president for domestic programs of
the Population Reference Bureau. “However, immigration levels have dropped since
the onset of the recession, mostly due to a decline in new arrivals, rather than
immigrants returning to their home countries.”
He estimated that natural increase — births over deaths — has accounted for
two-thirds of the nation’s population growth in the past few years. Without any
further immigration, deaths would begin to exceed births around 2048.
Depending on the extent of immigration, the country’s population could reach 400
million as early as 2035. Without immigration, growth would stall at about 322
million after 2040.
Projections Put Whites
in Minority in U.S. by 2050, NYT, 18.12.2009,
Census Data Show
September 22, 2009
The New York Times
By SAM ROBERTS
A smaller share of Americans married, drove to work alone, owned their own
home or moved to a new residence last year than the year before.
More lived in overcrowded housing. Property values declined. And fewer
immigrants arrived, which meant that for the first time since the beginning of
the decade, the total number of foreign-born people in the country did not grow.
Those were among the findings released Monday in the Census Bureau’s annual
American Community Survey, a wealth of data comparing the nation’s profile in
2008 with that of 2007.
Several experts, including Mark Mather, associate vice president for domestic
programs at the Population Reference Bureau, said a number of the changes could
be attributed to the national recession, which began at the end of 2007. The
result is an early statistical snapshot of the economic downturn and the housing
For example, after rising steadily since 2000, median home values dropped in
2008, and the homeownership rate fell half a point, to 66.6 percent, the lowest
since 2002. Among blacks, who have been disproportionately affected by
foreclosures, homeownership fell a full point, to 45.6 percent.
Furthermore, in a country where people typically move to take advantage of
better job opportunities, those who changed residences fell to 15 percent in
2008, from a recent peak of 16 percent in 2006.
“Job loss, or the potential for job loss, leads to feelings of economic
insecurity,” Dr. Mather said, with implications for additional matters like the
timing of divorce and marriage. Such insecurity appears to have added to a
longer trend in which the share of people over age 15 who have never married
increased to 31 percent last year from 27 percent in 2000.
The latest figures appear likely to fuel political debates on subjects as varied
as health care (the rate of uninsured children last year ranged as high as 20
percent, in Nevada) and immigration (fewer newcomers appear to be illegal or
Earlier private and government surveys suggested that immigration was slowing,
but these were the first annual census figures showing it to be stagnant.
“We’ve had an economic downturn, and that may well be affecting the
attractiveness of the United States as a destination,” said Thomas A. Gryn, a
statistician with the bureau’s immigration statistics staff.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said: “The general
economic malaise in the U.S. has drawn fewer immigrants from Mexico and
elsewhere. At the same time, there are increases in high-skilled immigrants from
India” and some other Asian countries.
The statistics also showed that real median household income declined
nationwide, rising in only five states — New York, New Jersey, Kansas, Louisiana
and Texas — compared with 33 states in 2007. It ranged from $37,790 in
Mississippi to $70,545 in Maryland. Income inequality was highest in
metropolitan New York, where the top fifth of households received 20 times as
much as the bottom fifth.
The median price of an owner-occupied home fell nationally (by 2 percent, to
$197,600) and in 22 states. The biggest declines were in Nevada and California
(16 percent) and Florida (9 percent). Increases in value were recorded in Texas,
Utah, Wyoming, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and North Carolina.
The highest housing costs for homeowners with mortgages were in California, New
Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut and Massachusetts. While those costs nationally were
about the same as the year before, the drop in median income meant that more
owners with a mortgage (29 percent) and renters (41 percent) were paying 35
percent or more of their income for housing.
The proportion of people lacking health insurance ranged from 4 percent in
Massachusetts to 24 percent in Texas.
Overcrowding, defined as more than 1.51 people per room, afflicted 1.1 percent
of households, up from 0.7 percent.
And the proportion of workers who commuted by driving without anyone else
decreased slightly, to 75.5 percent from 76.1 percent, and ranged from 54
percent in New York to 83 percent in Alabama. Those who carpooled and those who
used public transportation increased a bit.
Census Data Show
Recession-Driven Changes, NYT, 22.9.2009,
U.S. Births Hint at Bias
for Boys in Some Asians
June 15, 2009
The New York Times
By SAM ROBERTS
The trend is buried deep in United States census data: seemingly minute
deviations in the proportion of boys and girls born to Americans of Chinese,
Indian and Korean descent.
In those families, if the first child was a girl, it was more likely that a
second child would be a boy, according to recent studies of census data. If the
first two children were girls, it was even more likely that a third child would
Demographers say the statistical deviation among Asian-American families is
significant, and they believe it reflects not only a preference for male
children, but a growing tendency for these families to embrace sex-selection
techniques, like in vitro fertilization and sperm sorting, or abortion.
New immigrants typically transplant some of their customs and culture to the
United States — from tastes in food and child-rearing practices to their
emphasis on education and the elevated social and economic status of males. The
appeal to immigrants by clinics specializing in sex selection caused some
controversy a decade ago.
But a number of experts expressed surprise to see evidence that the preference
for sons among Asian-Americans has been so significantly carried over to this
country. “That this is going on in the United States — people were blown away by
this,” said Prof. Lena Edlund of Columbia University.
She and her colleague Prof. Douglas Almond studied 2000 census data and
published their results last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
In general, more boys than girls are born in the United States, by a ratio of
1.05 to 1. But among American families of Chinese, Korean and Indian descent,
the likelihood of having a boy increased to 1.17 to 1 if the first child was a
girl, according to the Columbia economists. If the first two children were
girls, the ratio for a third child was 1.51 to 1 — or about 50 percent greater —
in favor of boys.
Studies have not detected a similar preference for males among
The findings published by Professors Almond and Edlund were bolstered this year
by the work of a University of Texas economist, Prof. Jason Abrevaya. He found
that on the basis of census and birth records through 2004, the incidence of
boys among immigrant Chinese parents in New York was higher than the national
average for Chinese families. Boys typically account for about 515 of every
1,000 births. But he found that among Chinese New Yorkers having a third child,
the number of boys was about 558.
Joyce Moy, executive director of the Asian American/Asian Research Institute of
the City University of New York, said that family values prevalent in China,
including the tradition of elder parents depending on their sons for support,
have seeped into American culture even among younger immigrants, and even when
some of the historic underlying reasons for the preference are less relevant
here than in China, Korea and India.
“Inheritance in the old country is carried through the male line,” she said.
“Families depend on the male child for support.”
Dr. Norbert Gleicher, medical director of the Center for Human Reproduction, a
fertility and sex-selection clinic in New York and Chicago, said that from his
experience, people were more inclined to want female children, except for Asians
and Middle Easterners.
The preference for males among some immigrant Asians may fade with assimilation,
experts said. And no one expects it to result in the lopsided male majorities
like those in China, where, according to a study published this year in the
British Medical Journal, the government’s one-child policy has resulted in the
world’s highest sex disparity among newborns — about 120 boys for every 100
“The patients come in and they all think they owe me an excuse, but the bottom
line is it’s cultural,” said Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, medical director of the
Fertility Institutes, a California clinic that began sex-selection procedures in
New York in March.
The Fertility Institutes, which does not offer abortions, has unabashedly
advertised its services in Indian- and Chinese-language newspapers in the United
“Culturally, there are a lot of strange things that go on in the world,” Dr.
Steinberg said. “Whether we agree with it, it’s not harming anyone.”
Efforts by clinics to appeal to Indian families in the United States provoked
criticism and some community introspection in 2001. Some newspapers and
magazines that ran advertisements promoting the clinics, which offered
sex-selection procedures, expressed regret at the perpetuation of what critics
regard as a misogynistic practice.
In this country, some Asian families are having more than the two children they
had planned for if the first two are girls. “I do have girlfriends who have had
multiple children in anticipation there will ultimately be a boy,” Ms. Moy said.
Experts say that Asian-American families are using sex-selection techniques,
also called family balancing.
In China, sex selection is usually achieved by aborting female fetuses, which
doctors say also occurs in this country, although few parents were willing to be
interviewed about it.
“It’s a real touchy thing,” Dr. Steinberg said. “It’s illegal in Asia, and
culturally, it’s private.”
One New York couple, Angie and Rick, Chinese immigrants who were brought here by
their parents as young children and now own several food markets in the city,
agreed to be interviewed only if their last name was not used.
The first time Angie became pregnant and learned that the baby was a girl, she
and her husband were merely disappointed. They had planned on having a second
child anyway. When she learned she was pregnant with a girl again, though, the
couple considered an abortion.
Their doctor argued against terminating the second pregnancy, they said. The
couple reluctantly agreed to try for a third child.
“Our theory was that to raise kids, it’s tough already, so we didn’t want too
many,” Rick recalled.
They explored various forms of sex selection, which could cost $15,000 or more,
but they feared that because Angie was so fertile, the process would result in
multiple births. She became pregnant a third time naturally. The couple were
delighted to learn they were finally having a boy.
“If the third one was going to be a girl, then I would say probably I would have
terminated,” Angie said.
A 1989 study of sex selection in New York City, conducted by Dr. Masood
Khatamee, a clinical professor at N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center, found that all
the foreign-born couples — mostly from Asia and the Middle East — preferred
boys, predominantly for cultural and economic reasons. Often, the pressure comes
from the husband’s parents.
“I have two daughters and am married to an only child,” said a Chinese-American
professional woman who is married to an engineer. “Early on, after the two girls
were born and another two years went by and there was not a third, I found
myself in the living room with four or five older relatives in a discussion of
‘Wouldn’t it be lovely for you to have a boy?’ It’s extremely uncomfortable.”
Dr. Lisa Eng, a Hong Kong-born gynecologist who practices in Chinatown and
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, said she tried to discourage couples who prefer boys from
But, she said, “If it’s going to be a third, they’re pretty determined to have a
boy. If it’s a boy, they keep it. If it’s a girl, they’ll abort.”
U.S. Births Hint at Bias
for Boys in Some Asians, NYT, 15.6.2009,
’07 U.S. Births Break Baby Boom Record
March 19, 2009
The New York Times
By ERIK ECKHOLM
More babies were born in the United States in 2007 than in any other year in
American history, according to preliminary data reported Wednesday by the
National Center for Health Statistics.
The 4,317,000 births in 2007 just edged out the figure for 1957, at the height
of the baby boom. The increase reflected a slight rise in childbearing by women
of all ages, including those in their 30s and 40s, and a record share of births
to unmarried women.
But in contrast with the culturally transforming postwar boom, when a smaller
population of women bore an average of three or four children, the recent
increase mainly reflects a larger population of women of childbearing age, said
Stephanie J. Ventura, chief of reproductive statistics at the center and an
author of the new report. Today, the average woman has 2.1 children.
Also in 2007, for the second straight year and in a trend health officials find
worrisome, the rate of births to teenagers rose slightly after declining by
one-third from 1991 to 2005.
“The 14 years with teenage birth rates going down was one of the great success
stories in public health, and it’s possible that it’s coming to an end,” said
Sarah S. Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and
Unplanned Pregnancy, a private group in Washington.
But officials cautioned that the reversal has been small — a rise of 2 percent
in 2006 and 1 percent in 2007 — and that it is too early to know what the rate
will do next.
Even at the low point in 2005, the United States had the highest rates of
teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion of any industrialized country. Because
teenage births carry higher risks of medical problems and poverty for mother and
child, state health agencies, schools and private groups have mounted
educational campaigns to deter teenage pregnancy.
Still, the reasons for the steep decline and recent reversal are poorly
understood. The discussion is colored by politics: some liberals say “abstinence
only” sex education and restrictions on distribution of contraceptives are only
leading to more pregnancies, while conservatives tend to blame the ever more
permissive social climate.
Teenage abortion rates have been falling for years and are not believed to be a
major factor in the birth trends. “The decline resulted from less sex and more
contraception,” Ms. Brown said. “So the new trend must involve some combination
of more sex and less contraception.”
The new report also found that the share of births to unmarried women of all
ages reached a record high of 40 percent of all births in 2007, the most recent
data available. This continued a marked trend upward in unwed births since 2002.
The growth has mainly been fueled by increases among adult women, Ms. Ventura
said. Racial and ethnic differences remain large: 28 percent of white babies
were born to unmarried mothers in 2007, compared with 51 percent of Hispanic
babies and 72 percent of black babies. The shares of births to unwed mothers
among whites and Hispanics have climbed faster than the share among blacks, but
from lower starting points.
In yet another record high, the share of deliveries by Caesarean section reached
32 percent in 2007, up 2 percent from 2006. Experts have repeatedly said some
C-sections are not medically necessary and impose excess costs, but the rate has
steadily climbed, from 21 percent in 1996.
’07 U.S. Births Break
Baby Boom Record, NYT, 19.3.2009,