A new brief from the Carsey Institute at the University of
New Hampshire says that natural increase - more births than deaths - is now the
major engine of Hispanic population growth in many large metro areas and their
suburbs as well as numerous smaller metropolitan areas and rural communities.
Hispanics now account for half of U.S. population growth,
and Hispanic population growth is the reason many communities grew instead of
"A new demographic portrait of America is emerging, one
being redrawn by a growing Hispanic population fueled by a large number of
Hispanic births rather than immigration," says report author Kenneth Johnson,
senior demographer at the Carsey Institute and a professor of sociology at UNH.
"These trends will remake the social and cultural fabric of communities for decades
Between 2000 and 2007, more than half (58.6 percent) of
Hispanic population gain was from natural increase. This natural increase is
accelerating due to a high birth-to-death ratio (for every Hispanic death there
are 8.36 births, compared to 1.37 non-Hispanic births to every death), which
reflects a much younger population (median age of Hispanics is 27.6 compared
with 38.6 for non-Hispanics); a higher percentage of women of child-bearing age
(47.3 percent of Hispanic women compared to 40.6 percent of non-Hispanic
women); high fertility among Hispanic women, who tend to have children earlier
and have an average of 2.8 children compared with 2.0 among all U.S. women; and
a death rate lower than the general population.
"Through natural increase, Hispanic population growth has
taken on a momentum of its own and will likely continue, with or without
restrictive immigration legislation or an economic downturn," says Johnson, who
co-authored the brief with Daniel Lichter, director of the Bronfenbrenner Life
Course Center and a professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell
University. The brief is based on a recent article by the authors published in
the journal Population and Development Review.
The brief outlines not only how Hispanic population is
increasing, but where. Hispanics are a major source of growth in rural America,
accounting for 45.5 percent of non-metro population growth between 2000 and
2005. For many rural communities, Hispanic gains represent the first population
growth in decades, helping to counteract an aging white population brought on
in part by an exodus of youth. Hispanics are a source of new demographic vigor
in rural America; about one-half of the non-metro Hispanic population now
resides outside traditional Hispanic settlements in the rural Southwest.
The brief notes that Hispanic population growth due to
natural increase demands a different set of policies compared to those
associated with in-migration, with the former reinforcing the need to address
questions about education, language, and intergenerational economic mobility.
"The demographic implication of this natural increase is
clear: Hispanic population growth is self-sustaining," says Johnson.