By Hope YenAssociated Press
WASHINGTON Minorities make up nearly half the children born in the U.S., part of a historic trend in which minorities are expected to become the U.S. majority over the next 40 years.
Demographers say this year could be the “tipping point” when the number of babies born to minorities outnumbers that of babies born to whites.
The numbers are growing because immigration to the U.S. has boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years. Minorities made up 48 percent of U.S. children born in 2008, compared to 37 percent in 1990.
“Census projections suggest America may become a minority-majority country by the middle of the century,” said Kenneth Johnson, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire, who researched many of the ethnic trends in a paper being released today.
Johnson said there are now more Hispanic women of prime childbearing age who tend to have more children than women of other ethnicity.
The numbers highlight the nation’s growing racial and age divide, which could heighten tensions in current policy debates from immigration reform and education to health care and Social Security.
There are also strong implications for the 2010 population count, which begins in earnest next week, when more than 120 million U.S. households receive their census forms. The Census Bureau wants to improve its tally of young children, particularly minorities, who are most often missed.