For the first time in United States’ history, minority births outnumbered white births between July 2010 and July 2011, according to Census bureau data released today.
Non-white births accounted for 50.4 percent of the four million newborn babies, while non-hispanic whites made up 49.6 percent of all births in the U.S. in the 12-month period.
The new estimates marks “the dawn of a new era,” in which whites will no longer make up the majority of the country’s population. Non-Hispanic whites are expected to be outnumbered by 2042, reported the Washington Post. The latest data reflects an immigration wave that began four decades ago, the newspaper said. (Whites still account for the majority of the overall population at 63.4 percent.)
“This is a watershed moment,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at John Hopkins University who specializes in family issues. “It shows us how multicultural we’ve become.”
The demographic shift is largely attributable to aging whites. The media age of non-Hispanic whites is 42—by far the oldest group, past prime childbearing years. Blacks and Asians, in comparison, have a median age range in their 30s. The median age for American Indians and Alaska Natives (not including mixed race) is 37.2, according to Census data released in April 2010.
“The population is literally changing before us, with the youngest replacing the old,” Kenneth Johnson, a sociologist with the University of New Hampshire, told the Washington Post. “This is the first tipping point. The kids are in the vanguard of the change that’s coming.”
The Latino population is growing the fastest, accounting for 26 percent of the births between July 2010 and 2011. Blacks followed at 15 percent and Asians at 4 percent.