White Deaths Top Births for First Time Ever

Monday, June 17, 2013

The U.S. is becoming less white every day, according to the Census Bureau. Data released Thursday showed that 12,400 more non-Hispanic white people died in the U.S. last year than were born—the first time in history that the Caucasian population has shown a natural decrease instead of a natural increase. 


This natural decrease was offset, ironically, by the arrival of 188,000 white immigrants, mostly from Canada and Germany but also from Russia and Saudi Arabia, yielding a net increase of the white population of about 175,000.


Demographers expressed surprise at the natural decrease, which had been predicted to begin in about ten years. “We’re jumping the gun on a long, slow decline of our white population, which is going to characterize this century,” explained William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “Last year, we saw the majority of babies are minorities,” he said. “Now we see more whites are dying than being born. Together, that tells us a lot about where we’re going as a country.”


Demographers attribute the early arrival of Caucasian natural decrease to several factors, especially the Great Recession and sluggish aftermath, which depressed both birth rates and immigration; and the much higher average age of whites compared to other groups (the median age of whites is 42, of Asians-34, of blacks-32, of Hispanics-28), which translates into lower rates of population growth.


Although demographers predict the growth rate for non-Hispanic whites will rise if the economy improves, the white population should peak in 2024, when the oldest baby boomers, who are overwhelmingly white, will be 78 years old and dying in larger numbers.


The implications for government policy are enormous. According to Dr. Frey, the new data “makes more vivid than ever the fact that we will be reliant on younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth,” he said. The stability of programs like Social Security and Medicare, “will be reliant on the success of waves of young Hispanics, Asians and blacks who will become the bulwark of our labor force.”


The new data also showed that Asians are the fastest-growing major ethnic group, increasing by 2.9%, or 530,000, with immigration accounting for 60% of the increase.


The Hispanic population grew by 2.2%, or more than 1.1 million, the most of any group, with 76% resulting from natural increase. The African-American population expanded by 1.3%, or 559,000, mostly from natural increase.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Whites’ Deaths Outnumber Births for First Time (by Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik, Washington Post)

Census Benchmark for White Americans: More Deaths Than Births (by Sam Roberts, New York Times)

U.S. Birth and Abortion Rates Plunge to Record Lows (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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