For The First Time In U.S. History White Deaths Outnumber Births In Majority Of States

Deaths now outnumber births among whites in more than half of the United States, according to demographers at the University of Wisconsin in partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio. Meanwhile the birth/death ratio among blacks, asians and latinos remains robust.

Notably, the number of white deaths increased while births diminished between 1999 and 2016, signaling what could usher in a faster-than-expected transition to a future in which whites are no longer the majority in America.

With significantly fewer white births and a rising number of deaths, natural increase (births minus deaths) actually ended in 2016. In that year, for the first time in U.S. history, data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed more white deaths than births in the United States. -wsic.edu

“It’s happening a lot faster than we thought,” said Rogelio Sáenz, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a co-author of the report, which covers the period from 1999 to 2016 using data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Sáenz said he initially thought that the results must be a mistake.

We find overall white natural decrease in the U.S. for the first time in 2016 according to NCHS data. We also find that twenty-six states are currently experiencing it and that its occurrence has accelerated significantly in the past two years from seventeen states in 2014 to twenty-six states in 2016. Some 56 percent of the U.S. population reside in the 26 white natural decrease states and many of them are among the nation's most populous and urbanized.  -wsic.edu

The pattern first started nearly two decades ago in a handful of states with aging white populations like Pennsylvania and West Virginia. But fertility rates dropped drastically after the Great Recession and mortality rates for whites who are not of Hispanic origin have been rising, driven partly by drug overdoses. That has put demographic change on a faster track. The list of states where white deaths outnumber births now includes North Carolina and Ohio. -New York Times

The rapid change has sweeping implications for the cultural makeup of the United States; transforming a nation of mostly white baby boomers to a multiethnic and racial patchwork that can already be seen in many parts of the country. 

A majority of the youngest Americans are already nonwhite and look less like older generations than at any point in modern American history. In California, 52 percent of all children are living in homes with at least one immigrant parent, Professor Sáenz said.

What does it mean for the political map? Some experts say that rapid demographic change became a potent issue in the 2016 presidential race — and helped drive white voters to support Donald J. Trump. .

-New York Times

How does this affect politics?

The New York Times points out that of the 26 states in which white deaths now exceed births, 13 voted for Donald Trump and 13 voted for ClintonFour of the states switched from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016 - Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida - though it's unclear how the change in demographics will affect politics in the future.

Florida was the first state where white deaths outstripped births around 1993, largely because it was drawing a lot of retirees. But its population has been one of the fastest growing in the nation. Retirees have kept coming, replenishing the white population, and its large Hispanic population has helped lift the state over all. The median age for Hispanics in the United States is 29, prime for child bearing, compared with 43 for whites.

Deaths began to exceed births for whites countrywide in 2016, according to the report. But in many states, as in Florida, white people moving in made up the losses. However, in 17 states, including California, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio, those migrants weren’t enough and the white populations declined between 2015 and 2016, said Kenneth M. Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire and the report’s other author. Five of those states registered drops in their total populations that year: Vermont, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Connecticut. -New York Times

“People say demographics is destiny and there’ll be more people of color — all that is true,” said Yale social psychologist Jennifer Richeson. “But they also say the U.S. is going to become more progressive, and we don’t know that. We should not assume that white moderates and liberals will maintain current political allegiances, nor should we expect that the so-called nonwhite group is going to work in any kind of coalition.”

Rural areas began to experience a disproportionate number of aging whites long before other parts of the country - as young people tend to migrate towards urban areas - never to return home. 

“There are just hardly any young people in the county anymore,” said Michael Brown, 66, a retired hospital maintenance worker in Robersonville, North Carolina. He tells the Times that his two daughters went away to college and never moved back. “We are the last generation who stayed with their parents,” said Brown.