Study: Hispanics Dominate California Birth Rate
In another sign that Hispanics will dominate California’s future, a university study has found the ethnic group accounted for nearly half of all births in the state by the end of the last decade. Hispanic mothers had 247,796 of the 521,265 children born in California in 1998, or 47.5 percent, according to the University of California, Los Angeles study released last month.
Non-Hispanic Whites had 33.9 percent, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders with 10.7 percent. Blacks represented 6.8 percent of births and American Indians a half-percent of all births.
California’s future economic health depends upon those Hispanics, who soon will be the majority of young adults and hence the working force, says David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA.
“We can see the future population of California looking into the delivery rooms of today,” he says. “We have a very few years to make some choices,” such as improving education.
The study, based on state health department statistics, confirms the ethnic shift that made 2001 the year California officially lost its White majority. The U.S. Census showed that Hispanics made up nearly a third while non-Hispanic Whites slipped to less than half of the state’s total population of 33.9 million.
California’s experience is part of a “sea change” in the United States, where 23 states already have Hispanics as their largest ethnic minority, says Dr. Harry Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, a think-tank on Latino issues based in Claremont, Calif.
Hispanics are becoming more prominent in everything from movies to politics, and that is good for the state, Pachon says.
“If there was no penetration of social and political institutions, then you would have an isolated minority and that’s a recipe for social unrest,” he says.
On the other hand, by the third generation one of every two Hispanics have married outside of their ethnic group, he noted.
“There’s a Latinization of America but there’s also an Americanization of Latinos,” he says. “By third generation, a lot of them are losing their Spanish, they prefer American NFL to soccer.”
Overall, nearly 65 percent of all Hispanic mothers were immigrants, ranking them second to Asian and Pacific Islanders at more than 84 percent.
The babies tend to grow up healthy as well. Studies have shown that at virtually all stages of life, Hispanics, at least in California, Arizona and Texas, tended to suffer fewer major health problems, such as heart attacks, cancer and strokes, than other ethnic groups, Hayes-Bautista noted.
Only about 15 percent of Hispanic mothers were 19 years old or younger. By comparison nearly 17 percent of Blacks and 19 percent of American Indians were teen-agers. Non-Hispanic Whites had a figure of nearly 7 percent.
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