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March 3rd, 2009
06:05 PM ET

“If I were an aging white person”

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

“If I were an aging white person,” Ron Crouch begins provocatively, “I’d want to find some young black and Hispanic families and ask them how they’re doing because those young Hispanics and blacks will be taking my butt down the road” as they become the taxpayers and leaders of an increasingly multi-cultural America.

Age 62, Crouch is an aging white person and the road he’s talking about is his future and that of the 78 million baby boomers.

Crouch, director of the Kentucky State Data Center at the University of Louisville, travels the country speaking on trends in the American population. He fires machine-gun like bursts of population data as he talks about the years ahead. “The middle-aging, not the aging, of our population is now taking place. The aging of our population is a decade or more off,” says Crouch, explaining how elderly living longer, more than birth rates, will fuel growth in years ago come.

The white population is aging and will decline as a percentage of the population. Projections are that by 2023 there will be no racial majority among those 18-years-old and younger and that by 2042 there will be no racial majority in the country. The Latino population is increasing significantly (much faster than African-Americans), with a large percentage of young. At 15 percent, Latinos today are the largest minority group. By 2040, one of every four Americans likely will have Latino roots on their family tree.

Estimates vary, but over time more workers will leave the workforce than there will be new workers to replace them. That means fewer workers paying fewer taxes to support everything from public services to Social Security. “We need those young Hispanic workers down the road to take care of an older white population,” Crouch says.

"It's in the self-interest of the older generation to have immigrants here," Dowell Myers, an urban planning and demography professor at the University of Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times last year. "Even if you don’t like it, you have to ask the question: Who's going to fill your jobs, buy your homes and pay the taxes for old-age support programs?" Myers said then.

Now, Myers writes, boomers forced by the slumping economy to work extra years “will soften the blow of the anticipated baby boomer retirements, had they all abandoned the labor force on schedule. It also buys us a little more time to get the next generation ready to buy the boomers' homes. It is not so much newly-arrived immigrants who we will count on for help as it is the children of immigrants who are here today.”

Marta Tienda, a professor of both demographics and of sociology/public affairs at Princeton University, agrees that “the youthful Hispanic population represents a potential demographic dividend not available to other industrialized countries that are experiencing population decline,” but cautions, “Thus, immigrant labor can help to support the costs of an aging population, but their potential contributions depend on earnings capacity, which in turn depends on educational investments.”

Despite gains in the past 20 years, Latinos continue to lag behind whites in math and reading and trail in the rates at which they attend college.

Luis Lopez knows the struggle. He entered the U.S. illegally at age 15 with his family (later becoming citizens in an amnesty program). Teachers at Benjamin Franklin High School in Highland Park, Calif., saw promise and propelled him further. Lopez graduated from college and worked a series of jobs in the Los Angeles public schools. Four years ago, he came home to Ben Franklin, whose 2,700 students are 91 percent Latino. As principal he has guided the school to improved academic performance.

Lopez agrees with Crouch. “A white person should find out how these young, Hispanic kids are thinking but not so that he/she can react or defend him/herself from them. They need to know about these kids because one way or the other they will grow up to be part of our country, culture, and every day life. It is imperative that not only do we know what they are thinking but that their thinking is guided, and supported so that they are not only full members but positively contributing members of our country,” he says.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. CDAZ

    The truly laughable thing is the selfishness of the aging Europeans and their descendants in the Americas, Oceania, etc. They created a hostile world for their descendants through domination of colored people throughout the globe and in the future, their descendants will be the minority as these colored folks believe la leyenda negra, and the covert reinterpretations of Malcomn X.

    March 31, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  2. CaGal

    The USA separated from another country to start their own country which involves beliefs etc. (constitions, bill of rights) This country was set up as a melting pot from from the get get go. Except for many exusions. Blacks as slaves, Irish as sloth when first in America, Japenesse as threats, Gays as a threat to equal rights, Jews as outcast yet suffering, and the list can go on to present date.
    I tend to agree with one blogger listed above that I don't have a problem should take someone take LEGAL residence in this country ( as the above did) then they must comply with the rules of this country.
    Many illegals do work for cash under the table tax free, and that money 95% is sent back to their country of origin to support extendend family. I find that a a violation for many reasons.
    If any american went /visited another country we are expected "to play by their rules". I personally agree with that.
    As the saying goes "when in Spain speak spanish".

    March 4, 2009 at 7:54 pm |
  3. David, New Jersey

    We have many problems to solve in this country. Immigration is only part of the problem. We must solve the current economic conditions, we must improve our education system.

    This is a great country and we have a way of solving problems large and small. As an American I believe we will solve these problems that we are presently facing and we will be a better country for it.

    Proud to be an American.

    March 4, 2009 at 7:48 pm |
  4. Sharon S

    well if this is true then I agree that we need to make all the illegals LEGAL so they can start paying taxes and become good Americans!

    I mean they do sneak in and yet they use our government programs that are or were intially for the taxpayers, so they are NOT contributing Anything to our country simply taking and using it!

    So if these are the same people who will be leading our country they had better start with first becoming a good Taxpaying American and contribut something or there will be Nothing for our elderly nor will there be anymore handouts for them since they Never put one red cent into anything!

    March 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  5. Linda B., Ga

    I think some people forget just who and what color people made this country what it is today. It was ALL colors, nationallities, ethnic groups, religious groups, etc......not just whites. Too many people take things for granted these days.....I'm sure IF some of the white hypocrites checked into these Family Trees, they would find many different colors, in them.

    It's up to us to respect and admire people for what's inside of them, not what's on the outside....it's the old "Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover" theory .....

    Have a Great Day and God Bless America 🙂

    Oh and I'm 1 of those aging white fold 😉

    March 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  6. Isabel, Brazil

    This is a globalized world!

    The country is really much more interesting mix of cultures and ethnic groups.

    I, like Latin, I think so! Pity that not everyone will agree with me.

    March 4, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  7. Mike in NYC

    Since comments seem to be turned off here, I'll waste just a bit more of my time and add this: as the White population disappears, the "New America" will find it harder and harder to pay for a lot more than just Social Security.

    March 4, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  8. John

    My answer to this article is the question why do you continue to divide us. Peole are people. But Americans are only American if they assilitate their own cultures into ours. That is what makes America. Today I see no hope for us. I see silly division and culture clash that will eventually destroy us.

    March 3, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  9. JQQ -Brea California

    My Mother is Caucasian not white and she is 80 yrs old and retired from the phone company. She along with others pay for insurance out of their social Security check. Something a lot of people do not know. So far, she has been treated very badly by Hispanics in the terms of 'Respect'.
    I might add she does ask Hispanics what they thing of current events.

    Mom must is very pleased to see a multiracial President and his family in the White House.

    She wants me to also say, She wishes all people of all races had a chance of a good education as the African American.

    love mom,

    March 3, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  10. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    I suppose I miss the point. Since when do aging white people view young hispanics as the enemy...or different. This is America, the melting pot of the globe. Diversity makes us strong...and stronger will will be with the addition of all immigrants.

    March 3, 2009 at 10:04 pm |
  11. Mike in NYC

    Think of it this way - these aging white people were largely responsible for building the nation that the future majority will inherit. It was also their generation that passed the 1965 Immigration Act that made White-minority status, unthinkable a century ago, an inevitability.

    March 3, 2009 at 8:57 pm |
  12. Annie Kate

    If the Hispanic immigrants are going to be the supporters of the baby boomers as they retire and head off into the sunset, then we need to work on a way for the illegals to be legal and for other immigrants to come to the country legally instead of sneaking across the border and using our gov't programs while they are paid cash under the table so they don't have to pay taxes. I am not against immigration; I'm just against illegal immigration. Let's hope we can resolve this problem to the satisfaction of our government and the Mexican government.

    March 3, 2009 at 8:48 pm |
  13. Neo, New York City

    I often ask when was the last census (in jest) because I don't think people understand, just how diverse we really are here in the US. I can't believe one would suggest having immigrants here, in the same sentence that they would say we might not have enough jobs for everyone. Shouldn't it be that we make sure americans have opportunities before immigrants are is this country that far gone.

    March 3, 2009 at 8:40 pm |
  14. Deb Osborne

    I hope I live long enough to see the browning of America. Then we will truly become a melting pot. Education is the key for Hispanics, Blacks and the few young white people. All of us must do everything we can to make the younger generations understand how very important education and higher education and advanced training are to their and (our) future. I tutor the young and teach basic computer skills to those over 55. Although I am physically disabled I do what I can to improve the life skills of those less fortunate .

    March 3, 2009 at 8:34 pm |
  15. Jon

    Where are the people to buy the houses, fill the schools with children, be there to fill the workforce, pay taxes and take us into the future? As a nation between 1980 – 2,000 we aborted 1/3 of them......35,0000 lives exterminated. Add to this unthinkable tragady we are now sterilizing our population (female & Male) by contraceptives & STD's. And all for what? The selfish, self-centered, short-sightedness of the boomers will go down in history as a generation of disgrace.

    March 3, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  16. BarryH

    So so true, folks. As with many European countries the birth rate of "whites" is decreasing at a rate that will turn all former "all white" countries into racially mixed/blended countries. So, then, who's gonna pick up the tab when we want to retire and have a reliable Social Security, both in our benefits, and who's funding the program? It ain't gonna be who we thought it'd be, namely, our grandkids & their kids. Naw, it's gonna be Hispanics, Asians, & Afro-Americans. Those hardliners regarding immigration may want to reconsider things, and remodel what we think is a good immigration mix. Those white-supremacist groups will have to figure out what tiny corner of the world are they going to live in as they’re on the losing end of the “whites only” philosophy. Also, when you live in Oz and everyone wants to come to Oz, so how do you manage it to ensure the maximum benefits to all. Lots to think about.

    March 3, 2009 at 6:59 pm |

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