Babies and What Demographics Portend

A leading demographer reveals how three trends — on diversity, the recession, and uban growth — will influence the nation’s data points in 2014 and beyond.

Children of color now represent a majority of births nationally, and are the majority of infants in 14 states.  
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William Frey
Jan. 8, 2014, midnight

We asked a lead­ing demo­graph­ic ana­lyst with the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion about the three most note­worthy data points from 2013 that fore­tell sim­il­ar stat­ist­ics for 2014 and bey­ond. Here is his reply.

Demographer William H. Frey is a senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. National Journal

Demo­graph­er Wil­li­am H. Frey is a seni­or fel­low with the Met­ro­pol­it­an Policy Pro­gram of the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion.1) Fur­ther evid­ence of the need for a grow­ing di­verse pop­u­la­tion. For the first time in more than a cen­tury, it was re­por­ted there were more white deaths than births, lead­ing to a nat­ur­al de­crease of the white pop­u­la­tion. Pro­jec­tions show this will be the norm in dec­ades ahead, as a great­er num­ber of whites age out of their child­bear­ing years and more white baby boomers enter seni­or­hood. For­tu­nately, the youth­ful part of our pop­u­la­tion will be re­plen­ished by the growth of minor­ity chil­dren, who now rep­res­ent a ma­jor­ity of births na­tion­ally, and the ma­jor­ity of in­fants in 14 states.

2) Demo­graph­ic down­sides of the re­ces­sion con­tin­ue to linger. There are some demo­graph­ic bright spots that sug­gest the re­ces­sion af­ter­shocks have at least hit bot­tom (if not star­ted to track back to nor­mal). These in­clude a slow­down in house­holds shar­ing their res­id­ence with oth­er re­l­at­ives: a cur­tail­ment of the con­tin­ued de­cline in fer­til­ity and the ap­par­ent peak­ing of school en­roll­ment as an al­tern­at­ive to find­ing a job — trends made evid­ent by the re­cent Amer­ic­an Com­munity Sur­vey. Still, 2013 brings news that the na­tion­al growth rate is at its low­est since the Great De­pres­sion, sig­nal­ing down levels of im­mig­ra­tion. It also in­dic­ates that the mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion con­tin­ues to be “stuck in place” with his­tor­ic­ally low levels of mi­gra­tion. The re­newed mi­gra­tion of the lat­ter group, in par­tic­u­lar, con­tin­ues to be key to re­viv­ing growth in the hous­ing mar­ket and in still stag­nat­ing re­gions.

3) Big-city growth re­viv­al con­tin­ues. For the second year in a row, it was re­por­ted that large cit­ies are grow­ing faster than their sub­urbs — a trend that coun­ters dec­ades of sub­urb­an­iz­a­tion. Moreover, 16 of the 20 largest cit­ies grew at a faster rate last year than in the year be­fore. There is cer­tainly a re­newed in­terest in down­town liv­ing, walk­able sur­round­ings, and prox­im­ity to a vari­ety of urb­an amen­it­ies. Still, some of this city growth could also be re­lated to the im­mob­il­ity of young adults, who may be wait­ing to qual­i­fy for a more af­ford­able sub­urb­an home when one fi­nally be­comes avail­able.


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