The United States population is becoming older and more diverse, according to the Census Bureau. A new Associated Press report reveals that every ethnic and racial group in the United States showed growth between 2015 and 2016, with one notable exception: the white population remained nearly stagnant.
According to the Census Bureau data, the Asian-American population grew by 3%, as did those who identify as mixed-race. The Hispanic population grew by 2%, reaching 57.5 million, and the black population bumped up 1.2% to about 47 million. However, the non-Hispanic white population went up by only 5,000, clocking in at about 198 million people.
Despite this growth, Justin Gest, author of The New Minority, said in a statement to the Associated Press that this growth does not change the intricacies of structural inequality. Gest’s book focuses on the 2016 election, in which white voters broke heavily for President Donald Trump.
“Even then, [Whites] will still represent the nation’s largest plurality of people, and even then they will still inherit the structural advantages and legacies that benefit people on the basis of having white skin,” he said.
Knowing this, Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research for the Pew Research Center, said in a statement to AP that the nation’s growing diversity may take a generation or two to affect voting and political representation.
“Any sort of impact on politics may be several decades in the future,” he said.
Another future game changer? Americans are getting older. Census data found that the median age in the United States rose from 35 to 38 between 2000 and 2016 as the Baby Boomer generation enters their older years. The population of people over 65 also jumped from 35 million to 49.2 million, an increase that has major implications for the U.S. healthcare system.
“Aging baby boomers will keep driving the growth in numbers of older adults in the U.S.,” NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang said in a recent report. “Utah had the lowest median age, at almost 31. The county with the highest median age was Sumter County, Fla. — home to a large retirement community — where the median age was just over 67.”
AP reports that this aging population could affect healthcare funding. At this time, more than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, and this is expected to increase to 16 million by 2050. According to AP, Medicare now takes up $1 out every $7 of taxpayer money. This could go up to $1 out of every $6 by 2027 as the population changes.
And according to Newsweek, this age boost was visible in 95% of U.S. counties. And when it comes to changing demographics, researchers believe that the white population will continue to decrease as Baby Boomers enter their twilight years.
“Natural decrease is the ultimate demographic consequence of population aging, low fertility, and a diminishing proportion of the childbearing-age population,” a University of New Hampshire study found in 2016. “The rapid rise in the number of U.S. states experiencing white natural decrease reflects the demographic changes underway.”