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The Changing Face of the U.S

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Paula Acevedo
June 30, 2017

Our nation and our world is changing rapidly. By 2055, the U.S. will have no single racial or ethnic majority, as the population shifts to being more foreign-born. Currently, 14 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born compared to five percent in 1965. In the past half century, 59 million immigrants came to the U.S. from mostly Asia and Latin America; Asia has now surpassed Latin America as the biggest source of immigrants.

As our country and the world’s population grows older, countries with declining populations will need to rely on immigrants to take unfilled jobs older generations will leave for retirement. Not only are Americans becoming older, but the U.S. population is not being replaced by native born Americans given the fertility rate fell once again from 62.5 to 62.3 per 1,000 births from 2015 to 2016. At 1.85 births per woman, the U.S. has not seen its fertility rate be at a replacement rate which would be 2.1 births per woman since 1972.

graph online

At the same time, as the fertility rate has fallen we have seen more women enter the workforce and take on leadership positions. The American family has evolved with more mothers working outside the home, a decline in the two parent households and increases in divorce, remarriage and cohabitation. Families have also seen a rise in interracial marriage from seven percent in 1980 to 15 percent in 2010.

Younger age groups are changing at a faster pace than older groups of Americans, with 43 percent of Millennials being non-white and 35 percent of Millennials not identifying with any religion (48 percent of the world’s nations are seeing a similar trend). By 2050, Muslims will almost equal Christians, and 50 percent of the American electorate identifying as independents.

The changes are more pronounced in coastal and southern states where a larger share of immigrants settle and where younger groups are looking for opportunities, as a decreasing share of adults have the chance to be middle class. The Great Recession and sluggish recovery was particularly limiting for younger Americans, who entered the workforce struggling with student debt and having to resort to living at home to meet student loan payments older generations weren’t as heavily burdened with.

As our world and country changes, we need to adapt to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world, and accept that change is inevitable.


Author: Paula Acevedo is a graduate of American University’s School of Public Affairs with a Master’s in Public Administration and focus in Public Policy Analysis. She holds a BBA in Marketing and Management, with a minor in Business Law from Florida Atlantic University. Paula is currently a Research Associate at Council for a Strong America. She can be reached at [email protected].

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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