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.

kids running park
National Journal
Add to Briefcase
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.

Contributions by Andrew McGill

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.