Friday, June 22, 2018

Rural trend of natural decrease among whites spreads across the nation

The New York Times reported a few days ago on demographic changes in the United States.  The story, by Sabrina Tavernise, reports a natural decrease--more deaths than births--among whites in a majority of states.  Part of the story focuses on rural places:
The Census Bureau has projected that whites could drop below 50 percent of the population around 2045, a relatively slow-moving change that has been years in the making. But a new report this week found that whites are dying faster than they are being born now in 26 states, up from 17 just two years earlier, and demographers say that shift might come even sooner. 
“It’s happening a lot faster than we thought,” said Rogelio Sáenz, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a co-author of the report. It examines the period from 1999 to 2016 using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the federal agency that tracks births and deaths. He said he was so surprised at the finding that at first he thought it was a mistake.

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The aging of the white population began in rural counties long before it ever took hold in an entire state. Martin County, a bear-shaped patch of eastern North Carolina, first experienced it in the late 1970s.
Black deaths also exceed black births in Martin County, and the Latinx population are just 4%.

Tavernise puts the trend in political context, too:
The change has broad implications for identity and for the country’s political and economic life, transforming a mostly white baby boomer society into a multiethnic and racial patchwork.
Other states subject to this trend include several won by Donald Trump in 2016: Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan ... as well as Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and the Carolinas. Georgia, Virginia, Louisiana and Texas are exceptions among southern states.

Of interest elsewhere in the country is the fact that all of New England is experiencing more white deaths than births.  Indeed, among states in the northeast, only New York defies this trend.  The Midwest--broadly defined--appears most persistently resistant to it.

The New York Times published this op-ed last month which analyzes the trend from a global perspective.  The piece, by Philip Auerswald and Joon Yun, also discusses the political correlations to this demographic trend, in countries from Italy to Japan.
In the past decade people in rural, remote places have been disproportionately losing not just jobs and opportunities, but people, elementary schools and confidence in the future. ... Against such a backdrop of general decline, populists’ promises to revive dead or dying local industries are understandably welcome. 
As youth have continued to migrate from rural areas to cities, their movement has widened not only the median age gap between rural places and cities, but also gaps in attitude, since the young, regardless of where they live, tend to associate more with urban outlooks.
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Election data from the past two years plainly describe the consequences of these demographic dynamics: Most advanced industrialized countries are dominated by two competing political movements that either awkwardly inhabit the bodies of existing political parties or create new ones more to their liking. One movement extols the values that are a practical necessity in dense, interconnected cities: interdependence, internationalism and the embrace of “diversity” (defined along multiple dimensions). 
Another movement extols the equally necessary virtues of people in rural areas: self-reliance, autonomy and the embrace of immediate community and place.
Cross-posted to Working-Class Whites and the Law.

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