This is what the white supremists fear the most.

Immigration causes age, race split

By Haya El Nasser and Lorrie Grant,


Immigration is creating a generational divide between old, white America and a young America of many races, annual Census population figures out Thursday show.

The influx of newcomers, driven largely by Hispanics, is taking the country far beyond the traditional red-state/blue-state split between Republicans and Democrats that has preoccupied the nation in recent years. It is forming sharp age and race divisions: The old are mostly white, and the young are increasingly Hispanic, Asian and other minorities. (Related story: Diversity tints new kind of generation gap)

"(Age) 40 is a monumental dividing line," says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The generation gap puts pressure on communities that must juggle rising elderly populations and swelling school enrollments.

"The white-dominated society that we had back in the 1950s is being faded out," Frey says.

"Both red and blue parties are going to have to appeal to young and old."

The July 1, 2004, estimates by age, race and ethnicity show that Hispanics and Asians are growing more than 10 times the pace of whites who are not Hispanic.

Hispanics, totaling 41.3 million, are the largest minority group.

Because immigrants are younger and generally have more children, they're becoming a larger part of the nation's younger population.

At the same time, the white population is aging.

"The younger the age group, the more Hispanic it is," says Jeffrey Passel, demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington. "It's likely to continue for awhile."

Three of five Americans under 40 are white, but four of five above 40 are white.

Marketers recognize the shift.

"Beer ads, for example, are targeted at younger people and are more ethnic," says Paul Kelly, president of Silvermine Consulting Group in Westport, Conn., which works with consumer products companies. "Ads with party scenes are very diverse."

Retailers also are dealing with another demographic shift: A growing multicultural population.

Marriages across racial and ethnic lines jumped 65% in the 1990s and make up one in 15 marriages in the USA, up from one in 23 in 1990, Frey says.

"Everyone realizes that we're a nation of diversity now, and they want to celebrate it," says Allison Cohen, president of PeopleTalk, a market research company in Wenham, Mass. "Americans have come to see diversity in their workplace, in who their friends are."


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