Change coming

Change coming

Older white Americans still hold most of the economic and political power in the US. But the great ethnic diversity of younger generations means that change is coming.

America's workforce, politics and place on the world stage will soon be changed forever.

So great and so rapid are the shifts in the country's population, that, in the coming decade, the US is set to be transformed far more than other nations.

Almost half of millennials and children are from ethnic minority groups and it is this great diversity that is at the heart of demographic changes.

As the country comes to rely on them for its future prosperity, everyone will have to consider how society must change to make a success of this new reality.


In eight years' time, America's white population is expected to start falling, as the number of people dying exceeds the number of births.

Already, the number of white under-18s is falling - a pattern which will continue because of a decline in the population of white women of childbearing age.

Most striking of all, perhaps, is the speed at which the white population is ageing.

By 2030, the number of white over-65s will have grown by 42%.

At the same time, the number of white people of working age will have grown by only 9%.

The reality is that America will soon have large numbers of older white people dependent on the support of younger, more diverse, generations.

This "just in time" population boost comes from recent immigration and somewhat higher birth rates.

The states that are benefitting most are in the south and west of the US - where minorities have bolstered the gains in the child populations.

In contrast, many states in the nation's Northeast and Midwest are facing losses in their mostly white child populations, which are not being replaced by the births and in-migration of young minorities.

This surge in the number of young workers leaves the US in a much better position than many other industrialised nations.


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The population of the US - about 325 million people - has risen by nearly 100 million since 1980.

It is expected to rise to 400 million by the middle of the century - a very different scenario to that projected for most of the developed world.

For example, compared with Japan, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom - countries with generally older populations, lower birth rates, and lower immigration - the US working age population is expected to grow faster: by more than 5% between 2010 and 2030.

This population growth will, in turn, help to power America's economy - increasing production, consumption and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Yet were it not for its youthful new minorities - Hispanic and Asian Americans - the country's workforce would actually decline.

Change coming

New minorities may also offer the youthfulness that can bring energy, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Although the present culture gap between the generations may persist in the short run, the reality of America's changing population is likely to mean that "demography is destiny".

The "diversity explosion" that the nation is now experiencing will alter all aspects of society.

Leaders at all levels of government - and Americans in general - will have to consider what investments are needed in today's young minorities to help the country prosper.

The United States - much more than its peers - is on the cusp of great change.



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