Growing Diversity Among America’s Children and Youth: Spatial and Temporal Dimensions

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-04-04 01:06Z by Steven

Growing Diversity Among America’s Children and Youth: Spatial and Temporal Dimensions

Population and Development Review
Volume 36, Issue 1, March 2010
pages 151–176
DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2010.00322.x

Kenneth M. Johnson, Professor of Sociology and Senior Demographer
Department of Sociology and Carsey Institute
University of New Hampshire, Durham

Daniel T. Lichter, Professor of Policy Analysis and Management and Sociology
Cornell University

This study documents the changing racial and ethnic mix of America’s children. Specifically, we focus on the unusually rapid shifts in the composition and changing spatial distribution of America’s young people between 2000 and 2008. Minorities grew to 43 percent of all children and youth, up from 38.5 percent only eight years earlier. In 1990, this figure stood at 33 percent. Among 0–4-year-olds, 47 percent of all children were minority in 2008. Changes in racial and ethnic composition are driven by two powerful demographic forces. The first is the rapid increase since 2000 in the number of minority children—with Hispanics accounting for 80 percent of the growth. The second is the absolute decline in the number of non-Hispanic white children and youth. The growth of minority children and racial diversity is distributed unevenly over geographical space. Over 500 (or roughly 1 in 6) counties now have majority-minority youth populations. Broad geographic areas of America nevertheless remain mono-racial, where only small shares of minorities live.

AMERICA’S RAPIDLY CHANGING racial and ethnic composition will undoubtedly reshape ethnic identities, electoral politics, and inter-group relations in the foreseeable future. A recent report by the United States Census Bureau projected that racial and ethnic minorities—everyone but non-Hispanic single race whites—will become the majority population in 2042 (US Census Bureau 2008a). The size of the minority population is projected to grow to 235.7 million or 54 percent of the total US population by 2050. Of course, demographers understand that population projections are often not borne out; they rest on demographic assumptions that sometimes prove to be seriously flawed.

We do not need to rely on Census projections or wait until 2042 to observe the putative demographic implications of growing racial and ethnic diversity in American society.2 Our research documents the demographic forces that have placed today’s young people in the vanguard of America’s new racial and ethnic diversity. The seeds of diversity are being sown today by immigration and high fertility, which are revealed in growing racial and ethnic diversity among America’s children and youth. In many parts of the United States, the future is now.

This article has several goals. First, we use up-to-date census population estimates to document recent increases in the racial and ethnic mix of America’s youth, especially its youngest children (i.e., those aged 0–4 years). Predictably, growing racial diversity has been caused by rapid growth of minority children, especially Hispanic children, but perhaps less predictably by absolute numerical declines of non-Hispanic white children. Second, we show how national patterns have manifested themselves unevenly over geographic space. More than 500 US counties in 2008 had “majority-minority” populations of children, a number considerably higher than for the US population overall. Third, we document children’s growing exposure to racial diversity in the areas where they live. We provide new estimates based on the so-called diversity index (Rushton 2008). The frequent claim that we live in an increasingly multiracial or multicultural society—a fact that is both celebrated and feared—does not necessarily mean that national patterns are visible at the local or regional level…

…The uneven geography of racial diversity

How children fare today is a leading demographic indicator of America’s future: its racial composition, health, and social and economic well-being. But an exclusive focus on the national picture also can be misleading. For minority populations, racial and ethnic identities are socially constructed through daily interactions in the places where they live and work (Omi and Winant 1994). The demographic impacts of changing patterns of immigration, fertility, and natural increase are therefore experienced unevenly across the geographical United States (Massey 2008). The so-called Americanization process—the putative weakening of racial and ancestral identities—is shaped by cultural and economic incorporation, patterns of intermarriage, and the growth of immigrant and mixed-race populations, all of which both reflect and reinforce racially divergent residence patterns and inter-group exposure and social interaction (Waters and Jiménez 2005; Lee and Bean 2007)…

…Discussion and conclusion

With the election of Barack Obama as US President, issues of race and racial inclusion have acquired new saliency in the public discourse in America. The influx of roughly 1 million legal immigrants annually—mostly from Latin America and Asia—has further prompted debates about multiculturalism and social, economic, and cultural fragmentation: for example, English-language use, rising intermarriage, growing mixed-race populations, and political and economic power. The Census Bureau’s recent projection of a majority-minority US population in 2042 has sometimes been the source of alarmist rhetoric about America’s future and its essential character. We argue here that the seeds of racial and ethnic multiculturalism are also being sown by recent patterns of fertility, revealed in growing racial and ethnic diversity among America’s children and youth…

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The Origins and Demise of the Concept of Race

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-12-26 01:52Z by Steven

The Origins and Demise of the Concept of Race

Population and Development Review
Volume 30, Number 3 (September, 2004)
pages 385-415

Charles Hirschman, Boeing International Professor of Sociology and Professor of Public Affaris
University of Washington

Physical and cultural diversity have been salient features of human societies throughout history, but “race” as a scientific concept to account for human diversity is a modern phenomenon created in nineteenth-century Europe as Darwinian thought was (mis)applied to account for differences in human societies. Although modern science has discredited race as a meaningful biological concept, race has remained as an important social category because of historical patterns of interpersonal and institutional discrimination. However, the impossibility of consistent and reliable reporting of race, either as an identity or as an observed trait, means that the notion of race as a set of mutually exclusive categories is no longer tenable. As a social science term, race is being gradually abandoned. Physical differences in appearance among people remain a salient marker in everyday life, but this reality can be better framed within the concept of ethnicity.

To modern eyes, especially American ones, the reality of race is self-evident. Peoples whose ancestors originated from Africa, Asia, and Europe typically have different appearances in terms of skin color, hair texture, and other superficial features. Although racial differences may be only skin deep, it is widely assumed that races have been a primordial source of identity and intergroup antagonism from the earliest societies to the present, with ancient hatreds, exploitation, and discrimination among the most common patterns. Even in modern societies, which have exposed the myth of racism, race remains a widely used term for socially defined groups in popular discourse—and, in some countries, also in scholarly research, and public policy.

A basic problem, with this perspective is that it is increasingly difficult to define and measure race as a social category. Are Jews a race? What about Muslims in Europe or Koreans in Japan? If Filipinos and Samoans are official races listed in the US census form, why can’t Arab Americans or Middle Easterners be included? And how might the golfer Tiger Woods respond to the standard question about his racial identity?

Although these questions may seem merely pedantic many critical issues of public policy are shaped by the perceptions of racial identities and racial boundaries. Who should be eligible for preferential admission to universities in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, India, South Africa, and other societies that have affirmative action policies? What are the rules for defining the descendants of indigenous peoples who are seeking redress for the expropriation of their ancestral lands in the United States, Canada, and many other countries around the globe? Who decides one’s racial origins—are they based on subjective identity or are there objective criteria that observers can use? These are challenging questions that will tie policymakers and scholars into knots in the coming years as they attempt to take race into account in order to fashion nonracial or postracist societies.

In this essay, I review the history of the concept of race and its ties to social science, including demography. My conclusion (drawing on the work of other scholars) is that race and racism are not ancient or tribal beliefs but have developed apace with modernity over the last 400 years and reached their apogee in the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. Social science did not originate the belief that innate differences are associated with racial groups, but many social scientists in the Social Darwinist tradition were complicit in the construction and legitimation of racial theories.

In the twentieth century, social scientists made strident efforts to challenge the assumptions and reveal the lack of empirical evidence behind the racial theories of humankind. However, it took epochal events, most notably the specter of Nazi Germany and the nationalist movements of colonized peoples, to weaken the grip of racism as a popular and scientific theory. Although biological theories of race have been largely discredited by these political events and scientific progress, racial identities, classifications, and prejudices remain part of the fabric of many modern societies. I maintain that social science, and demography in particular, have an obligation to show that it is impossible to discuss the issue of race with any logic or consistency without an understanding of the origins and characteristics of racism…

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The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of the US Population: Emerging American Identities

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science, United States on 2010-08-19 04:05Z by Steven

The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of the US Population: Emerging American Identities

Population and Development Review
Volume 35, Issue 1 (March 2009)
pages 1-51
DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2009.00260.x

Anthony Daniel Perez, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Charles Hirschman, Boeing International Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology and Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology
University of Washington, Seattle

Images and interpretations of the past, present, and future of the American racial and ethnic landscape are contradictory. Many accounts focus on the increasing diversity that results from immigration and differential natural increase as well as the proliferation of racial and ethnic categories in census data. Less attention has been paid to the formation and erosion of racial and ethnic identities produced by intermarriage and ethnic blending. The framers and custodians of census racial classifications assume a “geographic origins” definition of race and ethnicity, but the de facto measures in censuses and social surveys rely on folk categories that vary over time and are influenced by administrative practices and sociopolitical movements. We illustrate these issues through an in-depth examination of the racial and ethnic reporting by whites, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics in the 2000 census. The emerging pattern, labeled here as the “Americanization” of racial and ethnic identities, and most evident for whites and blacks, is of simplified racial identities with little acknowledgment of complex ancestries. National origin is the predominant mode of reporting racial and ethnic identities among Asians and Hispanics, especially first-generation immigrants. The future of racial and ethnic identities is unknowable, but continued high levels of immigration, intermarriage, and social mobility are likely to blur contemporary divisions and boundaries.

America was a multiethnic and multicultural society from the outset. The original American colonies were formed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as frontier societies composed of multiple founding populations (Klein 2004: Ch. 2). First among these were the indigenous peoples of North America, who were gradually displaced or absorbed by the more numerous European settlers and indentured servants from various parts of the world. Africans were imported primarily as slave labor from the Caribbean and West Africa, although some arrived as indentured servants on terms similar to whites. In the middle decades of the seventeenth century, some blacks became free settlers, but by the close of the seventeenth century, slavery and African heritage became nearly synonymous (Fredrickson 1981). With unbalanced sex ratios in frontier settings, large populations of mixed ancestry soon emerged, particularly in Southern colonies (Davis 1991). While some unions were the result of intermarriage or consensual liaisons, there was also widespread sexual exploitation of black women by white slave owners (Fredrickson 1981: Ch. 3).

The ethnic and racial landscape became even more complex during the nineteenth century. Continental expansion added lands that had been home to Native Americans and peoples of mixed indigenous and Spanish origin, and successive waves of immigration from Europe and Asia fueled the rapid growth of an increasingly diverse population. Tracking the mixed and un-mixed descendants from these many threads is a theoretical possibility, but not one that can be easily accomplished with historical or contemporary data. The problem is that the differential rates of settlement, natural increase, and intermarriage (or sexual unions) that produced progeny of mixed ancestry are largely unknown. Small differences in assumptions about the relative magnitudes of these processes can lead to greatly different estimates of the ancestral origins of the contemporary American population.

An even greater obstacle to describing the ethnic makeup of the American people is the assumption that most people are able and willing to accurately report the origins of their parents, grandparents, and more distant ancestors. In many cases, knowledge of ancestral origins is passed along in families or communities, but in some cases these narratives are suppressed or simply lost to history. As a result, the racial and ethnic composition recorded in censuses, surveys, and administrative records reflects a large degree of subjectivity and even speculation, in addition to actual patterns of genealogical descent. Methodological studies of census questions about race and ethnicity, for instance, show that responses are affected, often remarkably so, by the format of questions, the listed choices, and the examples included in questionnaire instructions (Farley 1991; Hirschman, Alba, and Farley 2000)…

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