As of 2013, approximately 41.3 million immigrants lived in the United States, an all-time high for a nation historically built on immigration. The United States remains a popular destination attracting about 20 percent of the world’s international migrants, even as it represents less than 5 percent of the global population. Immigrants accounted for 13 percent of the total 316 million U.S. residents; adding the U.S.-born children (of all ages) of immigrants means that approximately 80 million people, or one-quarter of the overall U.S. population, is either of the first or second generation. (Zong, J., & Batalova, J., 2015)
Along with determining which populations are growing or shrinking, it’s important to understand why. Population growth is fueled by two factors: Natural increase and immigration. If births exceed deaths in a particular area, that area has a natural increase in population; if deaths exceed births, it has a natural decrease. Natural increases and decreases, in turn, are influenced by birth rates—the number of births per 1,000 people—and fertility rates—the number of births per 1,000 women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four.
If more people move into an area than away, the area has a net in-migration; if more move away from the area than into it, the area has a net out-migration. Migration can be internal (from one place to another within the United States) or international (into or out of the United States).
These components of change vary from place to place and population to population. Asian population growth, for example, is due primarily to immigration, as Asian families have low birth rates. Hispanic population growth is due to both immigration and natural increase.
Key demographic trends affecting public schools
We are growing older. In 2010, the median age in the United States had reached 37.2 years of age, up 1.9 years from the 2000 median age of 35.3 years.
We are growing more diverse. Trends in immigration and birth rates indicate that soon there will be no majority racial or ethnic group in the United States—no one group that makes up more than fifty percent of the total population. Already almost one in ten U.S. counties has a population that is more than fifty percent minority. Eight counties reached that status in 2006, bringing the total to 303 of the nation’s 3,141 counties.
We are growing older and more diverse at the same time. Non-Hispanic whites are the oldest; Hispanics are the youngest. Our youngest populations are the most diverse; forty-seven percent of children younger than five belong to a racial or ethnic minority group.
These trends mean:
-The population that schools educate is increasingly made up of children of color and Hispanic origin.
-The population that schools depend on for financial support is increasingly older, non-Hispanic, and white, and does not have school-age children.
-A multi-hued workforce will support the social safety nets that growing populations of elderly non-Hispanic whites depend on.
-Achievement gaps between student groups will have ever-more-serious economic implications. Minorities have historically been under-represented in such professions as science, medicine, and engineering. With the non-Hispanic white population shrinking and the entry-level workforce increasingly made up of minorities, the nation [faces] serious shortages in many critical professions. (n.d., 2012)
In multilingual societies like the United States, the languages people use in daily life is the outcome of a variety of choices and constraints. The author Gillian Stevens viewed the relative frequency with which members of minority language groups use English and their non-English language as the outcome of two sets of factors: (1) the pressures and incentives that encourage non-English language Americans to use English, and (2) the demographic context that constrains the range of opportunities for non-English language Americans to interact with others who can speak their non-English language. The results, based on data from a large national survey, show that both sets of factors strongly influence patterns of language use. Further analysis shows that the demographic context influences patterns of language use in part by affecting the probability that non-English language Americans have spouses with a facility in the same non-English language. (Stevens, 1992)
The ethnic, cultural, and linguistic makeup of this country has been changing steadily over the past few decades. Cultural diversity can result from many factors and influences including ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, socioeconomic levels, regionalisms, age-based peer groups, educational background, and mental/physical disability. With cultural diversity comes linguistic diversity, including an increase in the number of people who are English Language Learners, as well as those who speak nonmainstream dialects of English. In the United States, racial and ethnic projections for the years 2000–2015 indicate that the percentage of racial/ethnic minorities will increase to over 30% of the total population. The makeup of our school children will continue to diversify so that by 2010, children of immigrants will represent 22% of the school-age population (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2004)
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2004). Knowledge and skills needed by speech-language pathologists and audiologists to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services [Knowledge and Skills]. Retrieved November 9, 2016 from www.asha.org/policy.
The United States of education: The changing demographics of the United States and their schools. (2012, May). Retrieved November 09, 2016, from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/You-May-Al…
Stevens, Gillian. “The Social and Demographic Context of Language Use in the United States.” American Sociological Review, vol. 57, no. 2, 1992, pp. 171–185. www.jstor.org/stable/2096203.
Zong, J., & Batalova, J. (2015, February 26). Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States. Retrieved November 09, 2016, from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-…