FARAI CHIDEYA reporting:
A new US Census Bureau report reveals that Texas has become the fourth US state where more than half of the population is Latino, black, Asian or Native American. By some estimates, America as a whole will undergo this transformation within the next 50 years. Steve Murdock is the Texas state demographer and a professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio. He joins us now to talk about this report and the changing face of the nation.
Welcome, Dr. Murdock.
Dr. STEVE MURDOCK (University of Texas-San Antonio): Well, thank you.
CHIDEYA: So if Texas is the fourth state to become what some call majority-minority, which states beat Texas?
Dr. MURDOCK: Well, those states, of course, were California, Hawaii and New Mexico.
CHIDEYA: And so what are the forces leading this change? Is it immigration? Is it US-born population?
Dr. MURDOCK: Well, the Texas population growth that has led to this particular pattern has been primarily fueled by growth in the Hispanic population. And the growth in Texas' Hispanic population has been almost equally from natural increase--the excess of births over deaths and as a result of immigration and migration. And remember, of course, that Texas is a state that has long had a very significant Hispanic population, Latino population. In fact, Latinos were here before Anglos were here. So it's a state that has a long tradition of significant Hispanic population.
CHIDEYA: Now the whole issue of immigration which, as you point out, is not the whole basis for this change in the demographics, is one that's very contentious across the United States with people falling into wildly different camps about what US immigration policy should be. If immigration ended today and no more people came into the United States, would there still be a growing population of people who were Latino, black, Asian, Native American vs. the white population?
Dr. MURDOCK: Very likely simply because, for example, if you look at birth rates, birth rates are quite different. In Texas, the average Hispanic, what we call total fertility rate in demographic jargon, is about three compared to about 1.8 for Anglos or non-Hispanic whites. So there would continue to be growth in the population and there would continue to be a diversification of the population.
In the long run, of course, the thing that differentiates the United States from Western Europe and other countries that we sometimes make comparison to is our immigration because our Anglo population or non-Hispanic white population is in many ways similar to the population of Western Europe. It is an older population and it's had very slow growth. In each of the decades of the '80s and '90s, for example, the growth in the Anglo population, this non-Hispanic white population was less than 4 percent.
CHIDEYA: Now my final question is that, you know, you're obviously looking at the numbers, at the demographics of who lives in this country, but what kind of implications do your numbers have for things like education policy and employment?
Dr. MURDOCK: The reality of it is what they present for Texas and I think in the long run for the country is that how well Texas does, how well the country does will increasingly be dependent on what we refer to now as minority populations. And if you look at those populations and you look at differences in socioeconomic factors that are due to a variety of historical, discriminatory and other factors, the income differences, the education differences, what you see is that if we don't change through education and training the competitiveness of these fastest-growing components of our population, in our case Texas but also in the long term in the United States, will be poor. It will be less competitive than it is today's.
CHIDEYA: We will be keeping an eye on this issue. It's certainly one of the biggest ones in the nation. Dr. Steve Murdock is the Texas state demographer and a professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
Thank you for joining us.
Dr. MURDOCK: Thank you.
CHIDEYA: This is NPR News.
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