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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

America Is Getting More White Hair and Less White Skin

Posted by on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 8:16 AM

One way to look at this information, gathered and displayed by Pew Research, is that the older America gets, the more Amazonian (a society of women in Greek mythology) it becomes (men were not made for old age).

Also there is this:

In 1960, the population of the United States was 85% white; by 2060, it will be only 43% white. We were once a black and white country. Now, we’re a rainbow.
What officially initiated this demographic trend is, of course, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which ended preference to European immigrants. But why did this happen at all? Why did the US open its doors to other colors? Was this act an expression of increasing racial tolerance? A nation that was becoming more liberal and less hateful? I doubt it. Here is my best guess: The answer will be found in the link between capitalism and demographics.

This is one of the insights in Danny Dorling's wonderfully messy book Population 10 Billion, that capitalism and the demographic explosion in 19th century Europe cannot be separated. In the light of this reading, the big question is: Why is the US not growing as slowly as Japan, another advanced capitalist society? The answer: The latter did not and will never replenish its aging population with immigrants.

So why did the US open its doors to all others? Because Europe's economy was flourishing in 1965, ten years before the end of the Trente Glorieuses (30 glorious years), and as a consequence not supplying enough bodies for American capital. Immigrants buy furniture, buy homes, buy all the stuff that a massive capitalist economy needs to fuel speculation. This is just a guess, of course.


Comments (11) RSS

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dnt trust me 1
I think it's a really good guess.
Posted by dnt trust me on April 15, 2014 at 8:46 AM · Report this
seandr 2
It seems that capitalism and ethnic diversity cannot be separated. Three cheers for capitalism!
Posted by seandr on April 15, 2014 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 3

I think we were worried the U.S.S.R. or Red China would out man us, and we needed more bodies to hold the fort.

Now Russia is in a multi-decadal long population crash, and China has no women because their parents left them on rock ledges or threw them in the Yangtze in Mao's time.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on April 15, 2014 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 4
Finally, an implicit acknowledgement that our society is aging and it's not overpopulation all the time everywhere on the planet. A society needs to keep a 2.5 fertility rate. Immigrants are wonderful, but making babies is also needed.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on April 15, 2014 at 9:46 AM · Report this
lark 5
Good Morning Charles,
I think your guess is pretty good. And, yes before 1965 European immigrants were preferred.

However, I find it remarkable that many non-white immigrants (especially Asian and African/Afro-Caribbean immigrants) came to the USA PRIOR to 1965. Remember, it was an age in America of state sponsored segregation in old Dixie and many northern states/cities had restrictive covenants on deeds of property even here in Washington state. These were allowed by law.

It occurred to me to ask rhetorically years (decades even as a teen?) ago "Why would any rational adult who happened to be non-white before 1965 want to emigrate to a country that had segregation and restrictive covenants?" It couldn't have been about "freedom" real or perceived. Family? Possibly. No, I came to the conclusion (and I'm still not certain about that) they came for America's economic largesse. That is is to be successful economically (Capitalism?). Especially for their children.

My understanding is for an example of these kind of immigrants are the parents of actor Sidney Poitier & AG Eric Holder. I believe their parents came from Barbados and/or Jamaica. And most certainly arrived in the USA before 1950.

I do believe Capitalism had some role (for better or for worse) for non-white immigrants just like white Europeans to yearn for and emigrate to America.

@4 Phoebe I agree with you.
Posted by lark on April 15, 2014 at 10:39 AM · Report this
A nice theory, but there's an elephant in the room you're forgetting: the Cold War and the anticommunist courtship of unaligned developing countries. That was a huge factor.
Posted by Jizzlobber on April 15, 2014 at 12:07 PM · Report this
lark 7
OK. That's a huge factor but only after 1946. That still wouldn't explain non-white/non-European immigration to the USA especially from the Caribbean, Africa (albeit very few before 1965), Asia, the Near East and the Americas.

Again, I only hazarded a guess. But, I still think Capitalism has alot to with it.
Posted by lark on April 15, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
#7: What I described kind of goes hand in hand with capitalism (both expansion of labor in the US and opening of markets overseas), so most definitely.
Posted by Jizzlobber on April 15, 2014 at 2:30 PM · Report this
No, it was the first reason (an expression of racial tolerance). This was a civil rights bill, and Congress (and LBJ) were in a civil rights mood. They misjudged the impact, however. They didn't think the change would lead to a change in "the ethnic mix of the country". But they wanted the change because the old law was bad "on principle" (read what was said about it).

The strong European economy, however (along with the change in the law) did result in a higher percentage of people of color coming to this country. So, if Europe had suffered a big recession, or they had somehow curtailed their social programs (resulting in a lot of tired, poor, huddled masses) then European emigration would have been higher. The bill wasn't passed because we couldn't get enough Europeans; the bill was passed because we thought it was a good idea, then we didn't get enough Europeans because they had a strong economy and safety net.

The Cold War also changed things. Without our involvement in the Vietnamese War, we wouldn't have so many immigrants from Southeast Asia. Had the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1960s (e. g. after the Czech rebellion in 1968) then European immigration could have easily shot up. There would have been stronger ties with the U. S. and European communities then. For example, Poland was essentially cut off from the U. S. from WW II until the late 1980s. Had the collapse happened earlier, the generation ties between the U. S. and the old country would have been stronger, and immigration to the wealthier U. S. more likely.
Posted by Ross on April 15, 2014 at 3:22 PM · Report this
we should resume our prior absorption of the global population. to retain military preeminence - the safest thing to do - US may need a lot more people. GDP will become closer all the time in China and the US, because per cap GDP is getting closer and because China's population is enormous.

1. improve US GDP vs. rest of world
2. reduce global poverty
3. move ppl from places where warm globe sux to places where warm globe sux lil bit less

for smooth transitions, best to admit ppl from countries that r english speaking, whose faith dsn't beef w/ US culture, whose kids ace school tests, whose ppl r literate

crappy thing is that most important nflation seems to be coming from tough, long-term supply constraints. rent, food n healthcare can't be resolved by a huge influx of Ghanains, I think
Posted by alfresco on April 17, 2014 at 6:58 PM · Report this
also we can have more domestic staff and personal assistants and stuff like that
Posted by alfresco on April 17, 2014 at 7:06 PM · Report this

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