Racial stratification in America’s future

The demographic makeup of the U.S. is changing rapidly, but the human capital of the populations that make it up is not.

A recent report (pdf) by United for a Fair Economy looked at socio-economic racial differences from 1980 until the present, and projected those trends into 2042, when the white population is expected to dip below 50% of the American population.

First, this is how fast the change is happening:

However, though the population share of these populations is booming, their relative wealth is not – meaning that this America of the future, if these trends hold, is going to be even more racially stratified than it is now. There has been remarkably little relative change, or even, in the case of Hispanics, negative change (obviously due to immigration), in some indicators:

The study summarizes what we can expect in 2042 if previous trends hold:

If we continue on the path that we have been on since 1980, in 2042 the median Black family will still earn only about 61 cents for every dollar of  income earned by the median White family, while Latinos will earn just 45 cents for every dollar of White median-family income. Meanwhile, Black  poverty rates will still be close to double that of Whites, and poverty for Latinos will have grown to be more than two-and-a-half times that of Whites. Blacks will face an unemployment rate that is 1.8 times that of Whites, while Latinos will face an unemployment rate that remains roughly 1.5 times that of Whites.

Prison populations will continue to be overwhelmingly Black and Latino. If the trends since 1980 continue, nearly 5 percent of the Black population and close to 2 percent of the Latino population will be in prison in 2042.

Remember, that in 2042, blacks and hispanics are projected to make up about 40% of the population. Consider what that means for the health of American society.

For another perspective on the future of racial stratification, we can look at racial stratification in marriages. The wealth and education of mixed race couples is generally intermediate to that of their respective races. Given that non-white populations are dramatically increasing, this suggests that we may be heading towards less of a black-white dichotomy, and more of a latin america style colour gradient in socio-economic status, with Eurasians at the top, and blacks at the bottom:

I wrote another post, on South Africa, looking at things from the similar perspective of demographic change on economic indicators.

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