More Deaths Than Births This Weird Year

It used to creep me out when a new baby was born somewhere in our extended family and one of our older members would say, "That means someone will die."

While I'm not too terribly superstitious (knock on wood), that always used to make me look around uneasily when a baby was born, or when someone died.  It seemed to be pretty true.

The New York Times reports today that a baby is no longer being born every time someone dies.  In fact, for whites, fewer babies were born this year than older folks dying.  This year, for the first time in at least a century, according to Sam Roberts, the two did not cancel each other out.  More people died.  So?  Actually, it's quite significant.

Roberts calls it "a benchmark that heralds profound demographic change." The number of non-Hispanic white Americans is expected to begin declining by the end of this decade.      

“These new census estimates are an early signal alerting us to the impending decline in the white population that will characterize most of the 21st century,” William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, told Roberts.  “Today’s racial and ethnic minorities will no longer be dependent on older whites for their economic well-being."

In fact, whites might now become reliant on "younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth,” Roberts quotes Frey.

What does this mean overall?  For one thing, Social Security and Medicare -- as Baby Boomers age -- will become dependent on young Hispanics, Asians and blacks.  

Experts knew the white population would eventually decrease, but did not expect it for another decade, Roberts notes.

Professor Kenneth M. Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute, a research center based at the University of New Hampshire, told Roberts there were 320,000 more births than deaths among non-Hispanic whites in the year beginning July 2006, just before the recession. From 2010 to 2011, the natural increase among non-Hispanic whites had shrunk to 29,000.        

Roberts adds that Census Bureau estimates "indicate that there were 1.9 million non-Hispanic white births in the year ending July 1, 2012, compared with 2.3 million from July 2006 to 2007 during the economic boom, a 13.3 percent decline. "Non-Hispanic white deaths increased only modestly during the same period, by 1.6 percent."

But here's the really good news.  A whopping 62,000 Americans are 100, or older.


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