United States’ changing complexion of population - GulfToday

United States’ changing complexion of population


Representational image.

It is a matter of perspective. Some publications have described the new statistics of the United States’ population arising out of the decennial census of 2020 as that of the white population falling below 60 per cent for the first time, pointing to the changing complexion of the population from white to that of brown, giving rise to the phrase, ‘browning of America’. This is both inaccurate and unfair.

The whites still outnumber by a large margin the other racial groups. It is, of course, interesting, that we still speak in terms of race, a term that should have been banned long ago. But Europeans in Europe and in the Americas have not given up their racial identity, based exclusively on colour!

According to the latest figures, the whites are 204.3 million out of the total of 331.4 million. The next largest group is that of Hispanics, who count for 62.1 million, African Americans are 46.9 million, Asian Americans 24 million, and American Indians and Alaska Natives 9.7 million. In terms of percentage, the 204.3 million whites constitute of 57.6 per cent of the population, and the fact that it has fallen below the 60 per cent mark for the first time seems to be a matter of concern.

It is also interesting that the Latinos are considered less white. The blacks remain blacks and are African Americans. And the Asians, despite the vast difference in physique and culture between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Arab, they are all labelled as one racial group. There is the other complexity, that of people who belong to more than one race because their parents belong to different races, and it becomes more complicated as you go back in time! It turns out that it is only among the Latinos that the increase in population is due to natural births in America.

In the case of Asians, the increase in numbers is more due to immigration than due to births in the country. That is why Asians, like the Whites, seem to have smaller family size. In the case of the whites, the additional reason for the small family is late marriage. But there is an overall decrease in the growth of population, around 7.6 per cent, the slowest since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

These figures throw up a lot of questions about the American economy and American way of life. There is a slight decline in those aged below the age of 18, but decline there is. So, who will run the economy, who will pay the taxes, and who will sustain the social security and pensions? Will America need more immigrants? Will allowing more Latinos or Hispanics help because they are mostly unskilled and they work at the lower end of the wage spectrum. Would America want to absorb more Asians?

The rise of right-wing white groups, whose falling educational qualifications make then unemployable and their desire to keep guns make the society more volatile? American politicians of the generation have big questions to answer, and they are not going to be easy.

America has always been a country of immigrants. But the Irish and Italians, the Lithuanians and the Ukrainians, the Germans and the Russians who had poured into America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries adapted themselves to America and became Americans without asking too many questions.

But the new immigrants bring with heir their cultural identities and their desire to keep their cultures. Of course, multiculturalism is a great idea. But it could mean that the American society is less cohesive than it was ever before.

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