Friday, May 25, 2007
A look at California demographics according to US Census data...
The nation's minority population topped 100 million last year, about one-third of the total, and California had roughly 20 million minority residents, more than half of its total, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Between the rising minority population -- particularly of Latinos of any race -- and the low median age of Latinos, a new kind of generation gap is arising across the country, experts said Wednesday: Most people over 60 are non-Hispanic whites, and most under 40 are not.
California starkly reflects this new gap. Non-Hispanic white people account for 63 percent of the state's residents age 60 and older. But the population under 40 is 38 percent Latino of any race, 13 percent Asian American, 8 percent black and just 39 percent non-Hispanic white.
Some demographers suspect the new generation gap will heighten the nation's struggle to provide adequate social services and public education.
"The biggest problems will be related to language and culture," said Andrew Scharlach, a professor of aging at UC Berkeley. "The difference may make it hard for nonwhite elders to take advantage of services for English-speaking white elders. There may also be problems in caretaking of white seniors by nonwhite providers."
Mark Mather, director of the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., said researchers there found that states with the highest racial and ethnic diversity spend the least per pupil on education.
"It will be interesting to see if this new type of gap will affect funding for social programs and education spending for youth," he said.
The generation gap arises in part from a higher birth rate among Latino women, who average about three children compared to just under two children for non-Hispanic white, Asian and black people, said Hans Johnson, a demographer with the Public Policy Institute of California, in San Francisco. Mather said the chasm isn't likely to grow.
"We expect the gap to decline in the next 10 or 20 years with the aging of immigrants," Mather said.
Johnson agreed, noting that the immigration rate has been steady since the 1960s.
Latinos of any race were the fastest-growing minority group nationwide, reaching 44.2 million, up 3.4 percent from 2005, according to the annual estimates, which are being released to the public today. In California, Latinos also were the largest group, numbering 13.1 million, more than one-third of the state's total population.
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