CREDIT: Oregon Department of Transportation
It is an undeniable fact that the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, rapidly heading toward the day when there will no longer be any clear racial or ethnic majority in the U.S. population. You might think America, with its long history of racial panics, might be freaking out.
But it turns out, according to a massive new study of public attitudes about rising diversity by CAP and PolicyLink, that’s not so. Americans are reacting amazingly well to growing diversity — with the curious exception of white conservatives.
Already, more than half of newborns today are children of color, and demographers predict that more than half of all youth will be of color before the end of this decade. As youth drive this demographic change, each generation is becoming more racially and ethnically mixed than the one before.
By 2043, Census projections show that non-Hispanic whites will become a minority of our population. By 2050, they will be only 47 percent of the U.S. population, with communities of color combining to form a solid 53 percent majority. Hispanics will make up 28 percent of the population, up from 16 percent in 2010, and African Americans will make up 13 percent, about 1 percentage point higher than their level in 2010. Asians will make up 7 percent, up from 5 percent in 2010, and another 0.7 percent will be made up of American Indian/Alaska Natives, unchanged from their 2010 levels. Finally, multiracial individuals should double in size, from their current 2 percent of the population to 4 percent by 2050.
The CAP/PolicyLink poll, conducted with the Rockefeller Foundation and Latino Decisions, finds most Americans are welcoming the nation’s future with open arms and, perhaps more importantly, minds open to new policies tailored for a more diverse country.
With the exception of white conservatives, Americans across the board support “new steps to reduce racial and ethnic inequality in America through investments in areas like education, job training, and infrastructure improvement.” More than 7 in 10 Americans—71 percent—support this new equity agenda compared to the just 27 percent who are opposed. This includes 63 percent support among all whites, with 68 percent support among white college graduates and 61 percent among white non-college graduates.
White conservatives were the only demographic group to report majority opposition to new investments to reduce racial and ethnic inequality — 51 percent total oppose these initiatives. By contrast, 54 percent of all Americans say such investments would help the economy overall, compared to the 10 percent who think they would hurt the economy. Whites are 49 percent and 11 percent, respectively, on the same question. Finally, 61 percent of Americans say they would be willing to invest “significantly more public funds to help close [the] gap in college graduation rates” between black and Latino students and white students, compared to the 36 percent who say they are not willing to make such investments. Again, while whites are lower than minorities in their support, they still endorse this proposition by a margin of 53 percent to 46 percent:
Contrary to popular beliefs about public attitudes toward rising diversity, this research study finds clear and compelling evidence across a range of questions that Americans are open minded about our society’s changing demographics and believe, on the whole, that there are more benefits to the nation from rising diversity than costs. Americans understand that more needs to be done to help fully integrate all people into our national economy through expanded educational and job opportunities. Moreover, they are willing to make significant new investments to help reduce racial and ethnic inequalities and close the gaps between the rich and the poor. It’s time for our policymakers to recognize the changes underway in America and take the necessary steps to ensure that all people are included in our society and our economy.
Read the full report and see all of the survey findings here. We’ll post more on the survey throughout the week.