March 13, 2015


From minor to major : One American in six is now Hispanic, up from a small minority two generations ago. By mid-century it will be more than one in four. (David Rennie, Mar 14th 2015, The Economist)

America has twice before witnessed European migration waves that were proportionately even larger when measured against the population at the time: once in the 19th century and again at the start of the 20th century. Those new Americans came to be seen as respectable, over time, as they assimilated towards a majority culture rooted in what were explicitly called Anglo-Protestant ideals: self-reliance, rugged individualism, thrift and hard work. Yet now that white majority is on course to become a minority.

This will touch every aspect of public life, from politics to pop culture. Every year around 900,000 Hispanics born in America reach voting age. Neither party should imagine it will own their votes in perpetuity, but Republicans have the most work to do. In the 2012 presidential election Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, got nine in ten of his votes from whites, whereas Mr Obama won eight in ten of the votes cast by minorities. If the Republicans want to catch up, party hardliners will have to stop taking extreme positions on immigration. Hispanics are unlikely to listen to messages about jobs or health care from candidates who are also proposing to deport their mothers.

Business is waking up to the rise of Hispanics. Joe Uva, chairman of Hispanic enterprises and content at NBCUniversal, a big media company, is fond of telling fellow executives that with a combined purchasing power of $1.1 trillion, if Hispanic-Americans were a country they would rank 16th in the world.

A giant reason to be optimistic about the rise of Hispanics is that they are making America much younger. The median age of whites is 42; of blacks 32; and of Hispanics 28. Among American-born Hispanics, the median age is a stunning 18. As other parts of the rich world face a future of ageing, shrinking populations, Hispanics are keeping American schoolyards full of children and replenishing the supply of future workers. Since about 2011, white and non-white babies have been born in roughly equal numbers. White women already have fewer children than needed to replace their parents. Hispanic women's fertility rate has dropped a lot, but at an average of 2.4 children it is still above replacement level.

Posted by at March 13, 2015 4:22 PM

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