Toddlers Might Be Taking Over Your State

The under-5 population is now majority non-white for the first time, the Census Bureau announced Thursday.

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Janie Boschma
June 26, 2015, 3 a.m.

From now un­til 2030, the un­der-5 pop­u­la­tion will con­tin­ue to grow as a share of the pop­u­la­tion. It will also con­tin­ue to be­come more di­verse, ac­cord­ing to data shared with Next Amer­ica by the Urb­an In­sti­tute’s Map­ping Amer­ica’s Fu­tures pro­ject. Roll over this map to see how your state’s un­der-5 pop­u­la­tion is pro­jec­ted to grow and change by 2030.

The Fine Print

Between 2010 and 2030, MAF fore­casts that the over­all 0-4 pop­u­la­tion will grow as a share of the pop­u­la­tion by six per­cent. With­in that age group, the share of white and black chil­dren will de­crease by 13 per­cent and 5 per­cent, re­spect­ively. The shares for Latino and “oth­er” chil­dren—Asi­an, Nat­ive Amer­ic­an, mul­tiracial, and all preschool­ers with oth­er ra­cial or eth­nic back­grounds—in­crease sig­ni­fic­antly.

By 2030, the non-His­pan­ic white un­der-5 pop­u­la­tion will only in­crease in three states—Idaho, Mary­land, Vir­gin­ia—plus Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The preschool pop­u­la­tions for black chil­dren will in­crease in 15 states, 37 will see an in­crease in their Latino pop­u­la­tions, and all but West Vir­gin­ia will see growth in preschool­ers who fall un­der the “oth­er” cat­egory.

MAF pro­jects that the Latino un­der-5 pop­u­la­tion will in­crease from 5.5 mil­lion in 2010 to 6.9 mil­lion in 2030. While more states will see growth in the “oth­er” cat­egory, the Latino preschool growth is much great­er in ab­so­lute terms and is the primary cata­lyst for the un­der-5 pop­u­la­tion growth na­tion­wide.

In the 10 states with the most growth in their un­der-5 pop­u­la­tion, only two (Mary­land and Vir­gin­ia) will see in­creases in their white preschool pop­u­la­tions. Four will see in­creases in their black 0-4 pop­u­la­tions—in Ari­zona, Utah, Nevada, and Geor­gia. All but two (Alaska and Hawaii) will see in­creases in Latino preschool­ers. All 10 will see in­creases in the “oth­er” cat­egory.

There is in­cred­ible vari­ation in those shifts, state by state. The ana­lys­is sug­gests a de­cline of more than 10 per­cent in the un­der-5 pop­u­la­tion in states such as Louisi­ana, Mis­sis­sippi, Maine, Ver­mont, West Vir­gin­ia, Wyom­ing, and North Dakota. States such as Ari­zona, Nevada, Geor­gia, North Car­o­lina, and Vir­gin­ia will likely see an in­crease of between 20 and 40 per­cent.

The Urb­an In­sti­tute sees these demo­graph­ic shifts as a “great op­por­tun­ity” for the eco­nom­ic prosper­ity and fu­ture of the Amer­ic­an eco­nomy.

“I’ve felt for a while like there’s too little dia­logue on what’s hap­pen­ing in the fu­ture in the United States, a bit too much of mak­ing policy through the rear­view mir­ror,” says Rolf Pend­all, the dir­ect­or of both the MAF pro­ject and the in­sti­tute’s Met­ro­pol­it­an Hous­ing and Com­munit­ies Policy Cen­ter. “So Map­ping Amer­ica’s Fu­ture is a plat­form that is sup­posed to en­gage people in think­ing about how the coun­try is chan­ging and might change in the next 20 years.”

From the Ex­perts

Next Amer­ica spoke with some of the MAF’s re­search­ers—Pend­all, Nan As­tone, and Steven Mar­tin—to dis­cuss the im­pact of the change, the vari­ation among states, and the op­por­tun­it­ies in craft­ing smart policy for the fu­ture. The tran­script has been lightly ed­ited for clar­ity and length.

On the re­spons­ib­il­ity of loc­al lead­ers to pre­pare for the fu­ture by in­vest­ing in chil­dren:

Nan As­tone: The aging in Amer­ica get a lot of at­ten­tion and for good reas­on. But for some of the places that are grow­ing the most over­all, we’re see­ing a pretty large in­crease in the growth of young chil­dren. That has huge im­plic­a­tions for loc­al in­fra­struc­ture. One of the things that our col­leagues have talked about year to year in a volume called Kids’ Share is that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment spends a huge amount of money on seni­ors and a much smal­ler per­cent­age on chil­dren. But loc­al areas spend huge amounts on kids, es­pe­cially through the K-12 sys­tem and oth­er things, too. There’s a real is­sue in my mind as to wheth­er some of these places like At­lanta, and Hou­s­ton, and the Car­o­li­nas are really pre­pared for the on­slaught of kids that are go­ing to show up in schools. There have been some art­icles about Las Ve­gas already. The geo­graph­ic di­versity in how much the chil­dren’s pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing is im­port­ant be­cause it’s loc­al areas that are go­ing to have man­age the fal­lout from that.

On how states might or might not take ad­vant­age of these new op­por­tun­it­ies:

Steven Mar­tin: States are go­ing to have very dif­fer­ent stor­ies with re­spect to chil­dren and in­equal­ity, but it’s very un­cer­tain what those stor­ies will be. One could have an op­tim­ist­ic or a pess­im­ist­ic take on the fu­ture with re­spect to each of those. States that are de­creas­ing are states that have been primar­ily white or primar­ily black and have little in­crease in His­pan­ic or oth­er im­mig­ra­tion, and will also have some out-mi­gra­tion of whites and blacks. For ex­ample, Mis­sis­sippi and West Vir­gin­ia are areas that will have de­creas­ing pop­u­la­tions of chil­dren. That means that re­sources per child could well in­crease so there’s a pos­sib­il­ity there will be a way to have more re­sources per child dir­ec­ted in these areas. However, if these areas are eco­nom­ic­ally stressed, it could also be that those chil­dren end up get­ting missed and cir­cum­stances in those states get worse. On the oth­er hand, the areas that are in­creas­ing—the Moun­tain West, Texas, and the At­lantic East—will have lots of eco­nom­ic re­spons­ib­il­it­ies they will be tak­ing on for chil­dren. They also could have the eco­nom­ic re­sources to provide for them but it’s not yet cer­tain that that will be tak­ing place.

On the eco­nom­ic ar­gu­ment for why cit­ies need to edu­cate all chil­dren:

Pend­all: Be­cause Amer­ic­ans have stopped mov­ing around to the ex­tent that they used to 20-25 years ago and be­cause the pop­u­la­tion in their 20s and 30s is at a high-wa­ter mark right now, the pop­u­la­tion we have liv­ing in cer­tain places now is the pop­u­la­tion that we’re go­ing to have in those places. Places like Hou­s­ton and At­lanta aren’t go­ing to be able to count on a pipeline of well-edu­cated people from the Mid­w­est and the North­east; they really need to do a lot more to nur­ture and bring up the people who already live there. Even with im­mig­ra­tion from abroad, it is a de­creas­ing per­cent of the total pop­u­la­tion of the United States every year, even if the num­bers keep be­ing a mil­lion or so a year, which it isn’t quite yet. That’s not a mes­sage we’ve got­ten across en­tirely yet; we’re go­ing to keep on work­ing on that—the power and value of grow­ing your own, tak­ing care of the people who already live in your com­munity, and not just think­ing about what we can do to get mil­len­ni­als to move to our towns so we have a bet­ter eco­nom­ic fu­ture.

On the sup­posed grey-brown di­vide of a white, aging Amer­ica and young, non­white Amer­ica:

Pend­all: The more talk there is about the grey-brown di­vide, the more the grey-brown di­vide be­comes a real­ity. I don’t like to dwell on it. I don’t like to see it be­come a self-ful­filling proph­ecy. There are al­tern­ate nar­rat­ives and ex­amples that are in fact em­pir­ic­ally based of places in the United States and is­sues around which gen­er­a­tions can come to­geth­er des­pite eth­nic dif­fer­ences. I would like to think that this is one of them, that for people who share a fu­ture in Phoenix or Las Ve­gas that they say “We are in fact in this to­geth­er.” It helps us to look loc­ally.

As­tone: The grey-brown situ­ation is ac­tu­ally very geo­graph­ic­ally vari­ous. Many of the places that have the biggest con­cen­tra­tion of non­white chil­dren ac­tu­ally have a pretty large con­cen­tra­tion of non­white adults, not co­in­cid­ent­ally, and also have a young­er pop­u­la­tion in gen­er­al. In a lot of the places, like Maine, there are a lot of old people and those people are mostly white, so most of the kids up there are white, too. What’s true at the na­tion­al level is ac­tu­ally very, very dif­fer­ent throughout the coun­try. The grey-brown di­vide, to the ex­tent that it ex­ists, is very geo­graph­ic­ally vari­able.

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