Demographics

I have about ten ideas for posts for every actual post I publish here. This is something I’ve been stewing about since the election. I don’t have the inclination to document what I’m going to say so I’ll just blurt it out.

Over the period of the next twenty years the composition of the electorate will change from 72% “white”, as it is now, to about 60% “white”. That’s a demographic certainty. Those aren’t scare quotes by the way. I’m using a definition of “white” other than the one I’d use: people who aren’t black, Hispanic, or Asian. I just don’t see it as that big of a deal.

I’ve never thought of Hispanics or Asians as anything but white. Note that in 1840, when my Irish ancestors arrived here in the States, they weren’t considered “white” and when my wife’s Sicilian grandfather arrived here just before the turn of the 20th century he probably wasn’t considered “white”, either. Jews weren’t considered “white” a hundred or, perhaps, 120 years ago. Being white is malleable in a way that being black is not. I didn’t make it that way but it clearly is that way.

Will Hispanics be as socially and politically cohesive as blacks have been? I honestly don’t know and I don’t think that anybody else does, either.

I think there’s something to bear in mind. Blacks comprise about 12% of the American population. They comprised about 12% of the population 200 years ago, 150 years ago, 100 years ago, and 50 years ago. Hispanics are about 20% of the population. If Hispanics remain politically cohesive and committed to identity politics, the losers won’t be whites but blacks. The way identity politics has worked out in Chicago, likely a bellwether for the rest of the country, is that the political fortunes of Hispanics are rising. After two black mayors (one elected, one appointed), Chicago’s mayors have been “white”.

Over a period of about ten years white Southern Democrats deserted the party in droves and became Republicans. They have dominated the Republican Party power structure for the last couple of decades. Former mainstays of the Republican Party, paleocons and libertarians, are now called “independents” which is another way of saying they have no power at all. My point is that these things can change very rapidly. The only thing that’s a law of nature is that 90% of everything is showing up.

50 comments… add one

  • jan

    Blacks comprise about 12% of the American population. They comprised about 12% of the population 200 years ago, 150 years ago, 100 years ago, and 50 years ago.

    That’s an odd statistic about the AA percentage over the years. So, their demographic is stuck and not growing?

  • PD Shaw

    jan, immigration has been the longest factor in AA percentage not growing. It actually shrank significantly from 1790 (19.3%) to 1930 (9.7%) as a result of European immigration, and from the 1960s, the growth rate was moderate as a result of Latin American immigration.

    “Blacks” and everyone not Hispanic have birthrates below replacement level, and I suspect Hispanic birthrates will drop below replacement level in ten years. Immigration is the most likely source of any significant demographic changes in this country.

  • Immigration is the most likely source of any significant demographic changes in this country.

    The key word is “voters”. Other than a relative handful of naturalized citizens all of the voters of twenty years from now have already been born and we have a pretty fair idea of their racial/ethnic breakdown. That’s why I characterize the demographic shift in voters as “inevitable”.

    I don’t believe we’re likely to see the sort of immigration we’ve seen for the last three or four decades over the next several decades. We won’t see the level of Hispanic immigration due to the demographics of Latin America and the Caribbean (not to mention improved economic conditions in Mexico) and we won’t see a lot of African or Asian immigration because we’re just not a natural destination for it (as we are for Latin American and Caribbean immigration).

  • jan

    PD Shaw

    I know the replacement level has been going down, especially in caucasians. However, I just did not connect the dots with the AA demographic as stagnating, where it has essentially stayed the same for so many years. That historical number you dug up, from 1790 says a lot. Thanks for the continuing education….

  • It actually shrank significantly from 1790 (19.3%) to 1930 (9.7%) as a result of European immigration

    I was being a bit rhetorical. The point is the African American population isn’t growing. IMO spoils system identity politics is not a winning proposition for African Americans.

  • PD Shaw

    Dave, you did couch your statement with the “about,” so I took it as an approximation. A range from 9.7% to 19.3% over two-hundred years, settling somewhere in the middle seems fairly stable to me. And I don’t foresee immigration changing dramatically because of the factors you mention, though the question of reverse migration from the U.S. to Mexico remains a factor, and American universities’ reliance on foreign students still might mean significant potential upside from Asia.

    My own thought on the question in the piece is that most Hispanics (though perhaps not Afro-Caribbeans), are already identifying themselves as “white” in many parts of the country and it will likely grow unless national identities as minorities, originating in places like California and Florida superimpose themselves on local communities. Which is not to claim that all “whites” are the same, the Swedes are still different from the Germans are still different from the Italians who are different from the Irish, just not as much anymore.

  • though the question of reverse migration from the U.S. to Mexico remains a factor

    Yeah, I’ve heard that referred to as the “salmon effect”. If the U. S. economy stays in the doldrums for another couple of years, it’ll present a real test. I also can’t help but wonder if people who moved here from Mexico in the 80s won’t retire to Mexico. That Social Security check might go a lot farther there. Heck, I know of non-Hispanics who are retiring to Mexico.

    Either way it would really throw a monkeywrench into the Master Plan.

  • Which is not to claim that all “whites” are the same, the Swedes are still different from the Germans are still different from the Italians who are different from the Irish, just not as much anymore.

    That’s the silly and insulting part of the whole thing.

    Another thing that might put a crimp in the style of the permanent majority crowd: Jews aren’t a guaranteed support base. The most conservative Jews are having large families and don’t necessary support Democrats.

  • Speaking of demographics, I just received in the mail a red bandana ($4.04) from Amazon that I ordered a few days ago.

    It can be tied as a choker around my neck or worn as a pocket square when I’m wearing my denim work shirt and warpath necklace. ( That’s once I stop carrying my checkbook. Damn, a house is a menace to a bank balance.)

  • My own thought on the question in the piece is that most Hispanics (though perhaps not Afro-Caribbeans), are already identifying themselves as “white” in many parts of the country and it will likely grow unless national identities as minorities, originating in places like California and Florida superimpose themselves on local communities.

    They will not identify themselves as “white” so long as disparate impact civil rights cases can be brought to court in order to get more goodies either from or mandated by the government. I’m really going to start pushing for my wife and daughter to be classified as Hispanic. After all, the Missus was born in Puerto Rico. Hey, their claim is better than Elizabeth Warren’s….

  • PD Shaw

    Icepick, you’re from Florida I’ve already completely disregarded your opinions on this. Preemptive strike. ;)

    Particularly in politics, the advantages of ethnic identity can only be had within a like community. For Hispanics that means California, Texas and Florida. There, identity is a bridge to the community. That’s not happening in places like Ohio, one of the least Hispanic states in the nation.

  • Particularly in politics, the advantages of ethnic identity can only be had within a like community. For Hispanics that means California, Texas and Florida. There, identity is a bridge to the community. That’s not happening in places like Ohio, one of the least Hispanic states in the nation.

    When I was in high school it wasn’t happening here, either. (HERE = Central Florida) I remember exactly three Hispanic kids from when I was in primary and secondary education: One Columbian girl from seventh grade, and a couple of guys of undetermined background in high school. (I never bothered to ask either of them where their families came from. I was more interested in what openings they played.) I knew a LOT more Vietnamese kids at that time, and there were even a few Filipinos here and there. Hispanic didn’t register. There weren’t any Hispanics, Vietnamese or Filipinos in my elementary school (K-6) — only blacks and whites.

    I left high school in 1985. Twenty-seven years later, Osceola County is majority Hispanic, and Orange County is headed to a plurality Hispanic population by the end of the decade, if not sooner. Demographic changes happen very quickly. Not only do I not recognize the town I grew up in (because of all the growth), I don’t even speak the language in large parts of the area.

    PS Given that you are from Illinois I pretty much completely discount your opinion on immigration, too. You’re not living with it except perhaps in some vague cosmopolitan sense. I’ll likely hear Haitian Creole when I step out on the front porch to feed my cats in a few minutes. And I heard a lot of Spanish at the playground today, over in lily-white (by local standards) Winter Garden.

    Or consider it this way: Florida will never ever vote for a Republican for President either. And Texas may never vote for another Republican for President after 2016, and perhaps this was the last year they will vote for a Republican. Michael and the Dems are getting their wish: They’ve replaced enough of the population with Third World peasants that they will have absolute power going forward. Just because you’re not living with it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

  • Drew

    Ive seen an awful lot of commentary on the election. So much of it more complicated than I think need be.

    He/she who expects a government check or perceived right coming with his/her vote is far more likely to show up than he/she who ponders relatively intangible concepts like fiscal cliffs or US debt capacity limitations.

    As I understand it, the fabulous Obama got far fewer votes (although the same by demographic) in 2012 than 2008, but Romney got even fewer than the tired old man named McCain.

    Never overcomplicate. Look to the obvious first. Complacency. With so relatively few carrying the tax burden, we may have reached critical mass……………..if you like structural unemployment higher than in 30 years.

  • Drew

    same percentage by demo

  • Ooo, lost my bet! The woman across the street wasn’t home yet, so she wasn’t outside talking to any neighbors. So I didn’t hear the Haitian Creole this time.

    And Drew, I’m just loving the structural unemployment being this high! It’s making my decade.

  • steve

    “He/she who expects a government check or perceived right coming with his/her vote is far more likely to show up ”

    Nope. Poor people usually vote in lower percentages.

    Steve

  • Andy

    The numbers aren’t huge, but there’s a chance that we could see an influx of Middle-Eastern Christians should the US opt to take them in (admittedly a low chance). There are a few million in Syria and Egypt and both communities are under pressure.

  • When I was in high school it wasn’t happening here, either. (HERE = Central Florida) I remember exactly three Hispanic kids from when I was in primary and secondary education

    When I was a kid in St. Louis the Hispanics were so few that, essentially, they all knew each other. The very small population was about evenly divided between those of Spanish descent who’d been in St. Louis since Louisiana was a Spanish colony (1762 to 1802), remnants of the Spanish garrison left there after the Battle of St. Louis in 1780, and those of Mexican descent. There was exactly one Mexican restaurant in the metropolitan area, El Serape IIRC.

    I’m sure PD and Janis are aware that the picturesque buildings in the “French Quarter” in New Orleans were actually built by the Spaniards during that same period.

  • there’s a chance that we could see an influx of Middle-Eastern Christians should the US opt to take them in

    That returns to what I referred to as “natural destination”. I think the natural destination for Middle Eastern Christians is Europe.

    Back to St. Louis. St. Louis had a pretty old Lebanese population. In St. Louis when I was a kid the mob was controlled by the Lebanese. I went to high school with several Lebanese kids. I also attended a Maronite church. Man, did they throw great parish parties!

  • Andy

    He/she who expects a government check or perceived right coming with his/her vote is far more likely to show up than he/she who ponders relatively intangible concepts like fiscal cliffs or US debt capacity limitations.

    I’ll disagree with Steve and think you are right, but maybe not in the way you’d expect. The people who expect a government check and showed up to vote are those in the boomer and silent generation and they, by a large margin, voted for Romney. When it comes to a contest of who has the biggest latch on the government teat, those generations win hands down and they are also more likely to vote than later generations. It’s one of the great ironies of American politics – the GoP base of older white voters happen to be the biggest beneficiaries of government transfer payments.

    While most continue to focus on ethnicity, I think this generational divide is a bigger factor. The boomers love their SS and Medicare checks, but are much more skeptical when it comes to taxes to pay for them, much less funding for parts of government that don’t benefit them, like support for the poor. The future change in ethnic composition is not just ethnic, but also generational – the GoP cohort is not only whiter, but it’s also older.

  • jan

    With so relatively few carrying the tax burden, we may have reached critical mass……………..

    Before the election there was quite a bit of discussion about whether or not we had reached ‘critical mass,’ or as others have put it, a ‘tipping point.’ In my more cynical moments, I think we have.

  • Andy

    That returns to what I referred to as “natural destination”. I think the natural destination for Middle Eastern Christians is Europe.

    In normal times, I’d agree. However, I think the European economic situation, and the nationalism and racism it’s beginning to bring to the surface, will temper than somewhat.

  • Andy, the economy is not so great here that we need to add several million more workers for the jobs we don’t have.

  • Jimbino

    We need to put the ballot boxes in national and state parks, forests and beaches, because Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities never set foot there. http://www.georgewright.org/183floyd.pdf

  • Andy

    Andy, the economy is not so great here that we need to add several million more workers for the jobs we don’t have.

    Agreed, which is one reason I think that a large immigration of ME Christians is unlikely.

  • PD Shaw

    Icepick, I think it would be fair to point out that I live in a city which is about 80% white; 20% black and 2% Hispanic, and the Hispanics tend to have graduate degrees. That’s not universal, but I don’t think (parts of) CA, TX or FL occupy the norm either. But part of my understanding comes from my wife’s family, who settled in Arizona in the nineteenth century in covered wagons, and I believe still have Post Office Box Numero Uno in Sedona. The family has Hispanic members who probably came to the area first, and all tend to be conservative in that Western libertarian way.
    My impression is things are different there than even in the border areas of the state, but I largely think Hispanics will assimilate like other “whites” have assimilated in most parts of the country.

  • jan

    Andy, the economy is not so great here that we need to add several million more workers for the jobs we don’t have.

    Icepick, While we don’t have the jobs now, futurists are predicting, given the US’s low birthrate, accompanied by a huge aging baby boomer population who will have to be taken care of, there will actually be a worker shortage, in the near future. Such a prediction is not helpful for current times. But, in another 10-15 years the job market may look very different, especially positions needed to be filled in the health care sector.

  • PD Shaw

    I would expect immigrants to be attracted to places like North Dakota, which are in the midst of a boom cycle; too many “Americans” aren’t comfortable with the move (or perhaps the temperatures). I would not be surprised if ND goes through some demographic changes in the coming years.

  • But, in another 10-15 years the job market may look very different, especially positions needed to be filled in the health care sector.

    Great, more positions cleaning bed pans in the most bloated sector of the economy. This does not make me feel good about the future economy.

    And in 10-15 years I will be in my late fifties. That employment boom isn’t going to do shit for me. Unless I’m cleaning bedpans, of course.

  • I would not be surprised if ND goes through some demographic changes in the coming years.

    It’s already happening, even if everyone moving there manages to keep the current demographic proportions. The people coming in are not North Dakotans.

    And as I’ve said elsewhere, those of you advocating that us UE folks all move to North Dakota get to ignore a lot of things. First, there aren’t enough jobs in ND for all of us. Second, not all of us are in positions to move. I’m not going to be able to sell my house for anywhere near enough to cover housing in ND. To move my wife would have to move with me, giving up her job for a promise of maybe … something? If I went on my own she’s got to come up with someone to take care of our child. We’ve got no social network there. We don’t know anything ABOUT there. We don’t have the right clothes or anything like the appropriate knowledge about the climate. And on and on and on. Someone leaving their shit-hole country behind in fear of genocide doesn’t have all those downsides to relocating, just a few. And the unknowns ahead of them look a lot better than the knows behind them.

  • My favorite boy. Will you let me into your website now?

  • Drew

    Andy

    Perhaps you will cite my invocation of race etc? Government recipients know nothing but the issuer of the check.

  • Will you let me into your website now?

    Probably not. I’ve been considering taking it down since the start of the year as part of another medium-term project, which will remain nameless. Like I said, I’m planning on taking a sabbatical from the blog-o-sphere and possibly all news. I will most likely drop in on a couple of sites (yours, Ambiance) as those folks are friends more than anything else.

    But I’ve pretty much had it with the state of the world, my input makes no difference anyhow, whether or not or how well I’m informed also makes no difference, and it’s time to take a break. I may just kill off this whole persona while I’m at it.* But I’ll save everything elsewhere as I hate to lose anything. Thirty or forty years from now my daughter may get a kick out of seeing what a lunatic her father was.

    * What’s Schuler going to do without me? After all, I’m his monster from the Id!

  • Andy

    Perhaps you will cite my invocation of race etc? Government recipients know nothing but the issuer of the check.

    I didn’t mean to suggest you cited race. I was simply pointing out who’s getting the biggest checks. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Andy

    But I’ve pretty much had it with the state of the world, my input makes no difference anyhow, whether or not or how well I’m informed also makes no difference, and it’s time to take a break.

    I’ve done the same on occasion and for the same reasons. Life’s to important and short to spend being angry on the internet. FWIW I’ve enjoyed your wit and perspective (though not always agreeing, of course) and hope you come back around again at some point.

    Thinking about it now, I’m amazing at how much I’ve cut back. I used to regularly read several news sites and, perhaps, close to 150 blogs a day. I’ve cut my reading way down and I only post regularly on 3 sites now. With fewer information sources, I’m probably more in a bubble now, but that’s a small price to pay.

  • Good enough, Icepick.

    Please keep what you think for your daughter.

    I know that my father loved me and provided for me, and helped me with projects like balsamic house frames and ant farms, but he never outright told me he loved me.

    A reserved man.

  • FWIW I’ve enjoyed your wit and perspective (though not always agreeing, of course) and hope you come back around again at some point.

    Hell, Andy, my wife doesn’t agree with me that much, and if you did you’d be boring as Hell.

  • Janis, one thing that is true of my persona in real life as well as online is that I’m not terribly reserved. Or perhaps I reserve terribly. Not sure how that works. I hope that panda that just walked in doesn’t have a gun….

  • That would just be bad luck, Sugar.

  • steve

    @Andy- I stand corrected. While it is still true that the poor dont vote in high numbers, which is the group folks like Drew usually allude to when they make their comments, you are correct that it is the older, GOP voting folks who turn out in high percentages and numbers. I suspect that you wont get any of the conservatives on this site to acknowledge that.

    Steve

  • You might want to take a look at Gallup’s analysis of the demographics of the 2012 election.

  • steve

    Romney was taking the old people vote and Obama got the poor people. Federal expenditures for Medicare and Social Security vs the EITC, food stamps and TANF? Not even close.

    Steve

  • I’m not aware that anyone here has ignored the crisis with entitlements, steve.

    As for buying votes, the programs you are railing about were Democratic programs. As for poor people voting for Obama for a lot less in terms of pay-outs: That just means they’re cheap and stupid.

  • There’s another difference in demographics: People on SS and MC have generally paid into the system over previous decades. They will most likely get more out than they paid in, it’s true. (They will unless they die quickly.) It’s also true most of them don’t understand that, or believe it. But they do believe they are getting something they paid for.

    My 31 year-old neighbor, on the other hand, has been in and out of jail since getting out of high school. He’s never really held down any job. He’s got four children from two different women, only one of whom he’s bothered to marry. He and his GF get more benefits, apparently, with her as a single mom of three children. There can be no expectation on his part that he’s paid into the system for his benefits. He’s a taker, pure and simple, and he is completely unapologetic about it. He’s told me that I should have more children because, and I quote, “The government will pay for them.” When I told him my wife makes too much for us to qualify for any assistance he looked confused.

    So there are still real differences even among the takers.

    (And it’s funny to have anyone in the healthcare profession complain about this.)

  • They will most likely get more out than they paid in

    I could look up the citations for this but perhaps you’ll just take my word for it. On average most people do slightly worse by Social Security than breaking even, i.e. they receive in payments slightly less than they put in, making reasonable assumptions about earned interest. Some people are outraged by this. I think it’s about right.

    It’s in Medicare that the real problem arises. On average the benefits paid on behalf of a Medicare recipient will be several multiples of whatever he or she paid in. It’s not an actual earned benefit by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a gift, a subsidy.

    If costs in medicine had increased at the same rate as prices in the non-medical economy, that wouldn’t be the case. As Uwe Reinhardt put it, it’s the prices, stupid. Coincidentally, over the same period wages in the healthcare sector have grown far faster than in other sectors. It used to be that docs’ incomes were pretty close to those of lawyers, engineers, and other professionals. If docs’ incomes were aligned with those of other professionals, they’d be earning about 30% less than they are now.

    Add to that increased specialization and an enormously increased healthcare bureaucracy and you’ve got the system we have now. And Medicare costs that are unaffordably high.

  • On average most people do slightly worse by Social Security than breaking even, i.e. they receive in payments slightly less than they put in, making reasonable assumptions about earned interest. Some people are outraged by this. I think it’s about right.

    I thought with recent increases in longevity that SS recipients still got more out than they put in, even accounting for interest. I’d like to see a citation but don’t bother looking for it. I’ll look it up if I’m really interested.

    As for doing slightly less well than otherwise, I agree with you that this is quite adequate – they’re not doing as well because they’re essentially buying insurance backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. (And that used to be worth something.)

    I also know that Medicare is the real problem. I was just too lazy to break out the parts. As I said, I’m planning on becoming a very low information voter very soon. May as well be lazy too.

  • PD Shaw

    Part of the SS equation is how many people take the early retirement (with reduced benefits) and lose? If you know you are going to die btw/ 62 and 70, it makes sense to start drawing early. But a quick and unscientific google suggests there is a 10 to 14% chance of mortality during those years. I thought most (>50%) took the earliest withdrawal, which would mean that unless they have special knowledge, most are losing.

  • A lot of the immigrants, illegal in particular, are coming from statist nations. I think that’s a problem.

  • Sara, in that vein you might want to take a look at an old post of mine, “The influence of immigrants on American political thought”. Immigrants bring their political ideas with them when they arrive here.

  • cynthia curran

    PH Shaw could be correct. A lot of Mexicans and Central Americans were during the housing boom leaving the expensive LA/Orange County area and moving to places they never been before. Two, if birthrates continue to dropped in America less Mexican immirgants need to moved to US, it will take a while but the 2020’s will be the first decade where Mexican immirgation is closer to South Korea.

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