One reason for an increasingly diverse young population? Population aging.

In his recent article about diversity in young Americans, William Frey points to “a noteworthy demographic dynamic [that] is making the young post-millennial generation more racially diverse – the absolute decline in the number of white children (persons under age 18).” This, too, is happening in North Carolina. In 2015, North Carolina had 57,000 fewer white children than in 2010, with the declines most pronounced at ages 10 and under. These declines may be partly due to fertility declines, but they are more significantly impacted by population aging and an overall decrease in the number of potential white parents.

There were 100,000 fewer white (non-Hispanic) adults ages 35-49 living in North Carolina in 2015 than in 2010. This is not because of out-migration. Rather, it is driven by the aging-in and aging-out of groups with different population sizes. Individuals who were 45-49 in 2010 aged into the 50-54 year old category in 2015 and out of the 35-49 population. They were replaced by individuals who were 30-34 in 2010.

Individuals age 45-49 in 2010 were the youngest Baby Boomers and were the largest population of non-Hispanic whites in the state (484,000). The population of non-Hispanic white 30-34-year-olds in 2010 was substantially smaller: 368,000 or about 115,000 fewer individuals than the 45-49 year-olds they were replacing. The observed decline in the size of the 35-49 year old population—a loss of 106,315 individuals between 2010 and 2015—can be fully explained by population aging. The much smaller base of potential parents contributes significantly to the declining size of the white child population.

About Rebecca Tippett

Rebecca Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center.
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