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White Deaths Exceed White Births in Many States
 
Published Thursday, December 22, 2016

In 2014, deaths among non-Hispanic whites exceeded births in more states than at any time in U.S. history. Seventeen states, home to 121 million residents or roughly 38 percent of the U.S. population, had more deaths than births among non-Hispanic whites (hereafter referred to as whites) in 2014, compared to just four in 2004. When births fail to keep pace with deaths, a region is said to have a “natural decrease” in population, which can only be offset by migration gains. In twelve of the seventeen states with white natural decreases, the white population diminished overall between 2013 and 2014.

This research is the first to examine the growing incidence of white natural decrease among U.S. states and to consider its policy implications. Our analysis of the demographic factors that cause white natural decrease suggests that the pace is likely to pick up in the future.

Over the last several decades, demographers have noted the growing incidence of natural decrease in the United States.1 More widespread natural decrease results from declining fertility due to the Great Recession, and the aging of the large baby boom cohorts born between 1946 and 1964. This senior population is projected to expand from nearly 15 percent of the total population in 2015 to nearly 24 percent in 2060.2 Much of this aging baby boom population is white, and so white mortality is growing. Together, growing white mortality and the diminishing number of white births increase the likelihood of more white natural decrease. In contrast, births exceed deaths by a considerable margin among the younger Latino population, and the combination of these very different demographic trends is increasing the diversity of the U.S. population.

The authors of the study were Rogelio Saenz, dean of the College of Public Policy at the University of NH in Durham, and Peter Flawn, professor of demography at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Flawn is also a senior fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. They worked with Kenneth M. Johnson, a senior demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy and professor of sociology at UNH.


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