Dr. Johnson’s “Six Disruptive Trends: What Census 2010 Will Reveal.”

About the Author

CED Program Interns & Students

Matt Dudek is a graduate student in the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning, the School of Government, and a CERC intern working with the Cape Fear Council of Governments.

Last Tuesday, Kenan–Flagler professor, James H. Johnson, Jr. lectured at the School of Government on the “Six Disruptive Trends: What Census 2010 Will Reveal.” Dr. Johnson is a demographics expert, the Director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center, and the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Johnson has identified six trends emerging from the most recent decennial census, and has remarked about how different these trends are from how most people have defined America over the last 200 years. He refers to them as “disruptive trends because, “Because the specific population shifts discussed here will dramatically transform all of the nation’s social, economic, and political institutions, we refer to them collectively as disruptive demographic trends…”

Summaries of his six points can be found here. For a more thorough explanation please read Dr. Johnson’s published work.

1. The South Has Risen Again

Between 2000 and 2009 the U.S. Population has increased by about 24.8 million people. Just over half of the U.S. population growth was in the South (51.4%). The West had 32.7% population growth, and the Northeast and the Midwest only had 6.5% and 9.4% growth respectively.

2. The “Browning of America”

The population growth in the U.S. is being driven by minorities, especially since the quota system of immigration was made illegal in the 1960s and allowed increased immigration from Africa, Asia, and South America. The non-Hispanic white population of the U.S. has declined from 75 percent of the population in 1995, to 65% in 2009.

3. Marrying Out is “In”

Inter-racial marriages are adding to the increase in the “browning of America” according to Dr. Johnson. “Out-marriages,” as they are referred to, are up to 14.6% of new marriages in 2008, from 6.7% in 1980.

4. The Silver Tsunami is About to Hit Us

The “graying” of America has been written on the wall, ever since the baby boom began in post war America. The first baby boomer turned 65 in on January 1, 2011, and now 79 million baby boomers will exit the workforce over the next 20 years. This will place a heavy burden on Medicare and Social Security and other programs as their income tax is lost and they begin to drawn on services.

5. The End of Men?

Men have been more adversely affected by the structural changes in the U.S. economy because of their concentration in manufacturing and construction. Women on the other hand have had a steady upward trajectory in gaining education and are closing in on wage equality. The class of 2010 saw:

• 193,000 more women get their associate’s degree,

• 244,000 more women get a bachelor’s degree,

• 134,000 more women get a master’s degree,

• 1,400 more women get a doctorate.

6. Cooling Water from Grandma’s Well— and Grandpa’s Too!

Paralleling the graying of America, and the lack of job prospects for men, has been the increase of grandparent led households. Between 2001 and 2010, the number of children living in grandparent-headed households increased by 26.1 percent (1.0 million) while the number of children living in all U.S. household types increased only 3.8 percent (2.7 million).

These trends will have a significant impact on the politics and issues government will have to confront in the coming years It’s good to be aware of these changes and to start fully thinking about their implications so we can be prepared.

Additional information can be found here.

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