For the first time in US history, a majority of babies are members of minority ethnic groups, according to new census figures. Of the roughly 4 million born between July 2010 and July 2011, 50.4% belonged to minority groups. The data show that the huge demographic shift under way has as much to do with the aging of the white population as it does with the growth in other groups, the Wall Street Journal notes. Births among the non-Hispanic white population dropped a full 10% in that 12-month period.
Demographers say that without the growth in the Hispanic population—now America's second-largest population group—there would be a declining population and a disproportionate number of elderly citizens, as in Japan and parts of Europe. "We were already seeing a declining youth population in large parts of the country," a demographer with the Brookings Institution tells the Washington Post. "Without immigrants, we’d be essentially youthless. We had a perfect storm. We got them all coming, younger immigrants having children, at a time when we really needed them." (Read more demographics stories.)