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U.S./ The challenge of demographic trends

May Wed 23, 2012

What might the future bring?  What might the future bring?

Last year, ending last July, was the first in US history where fewer white babies were born than non-white babies. This was not unexpected given the demographic trends, but this event finally taking place could have many important implications in a country founded by white Europeans and with a long history of issues with race.

Here, summarized by "The Week," are four possible implications of this milestone for the future of American society:

1. We must improve minority educational opportunities
A college degree is "the most important building block of success in today's economy," says Sabrina Tavernise in The New York Times. "But blacks and Latinos lag far behind whites in getting one," with just 13 percent of Latinos and 18 percent of blacks earning college degrees, compared to 31 percent of whites. "We do a pretty lousy job of educating the younger generation of minorities," Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, tells the Times. "Basically, we are not ready for this."

2. Young minority works will prop up Social Security
This trend will dramatically change the nature of the U.S. workforce, says Frank Bass in The Washington Post, and the ins and outs of the Social Security system. "Predominantly white, older enclaves in the Northeast and Midwest will increasingly rely on an expanding population of young Asians and Hispanics in the West and Sun Belt" to keep Social Security and other retirement programs afloat. Whether this creates tensions remains to be seen.

3. This could spell better health care for non-whites
"The privilege of white children starts in the womb," says Koa Beck at Mommyish. Minority women have less reliable access to proper health care than white women. The historic news that women of color are "outpacing whites in the delivery room," however, should "put a rather large spotlight" on the problem. Maybe that will lead to a day when these injustices will fade, and children of color will stop getting the message that "their lives aren't nearly as valuable as those of white children."

4. Changing demographics will tip the political balance



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