Diversity

By: Dr. M. Ray Perryman
Published in syndication August 25, 2021

Newly released Census data indicates that the US population is becoming increasingly diverse. The most prevalent racial or ethnic group was the White alone non-Hispanic population at 57.8%, down from 63.7% in 2010. The Hispanic or Latino population was the second largest, comprising 18.7% of the total, while the Black or African American alone population was third at 12.1%.

For Texas, 39.7% of the 2020 population was in the White alone group, down from 45.3% in 2010. The next largest category was Hispanic, with 39.3% (up from 37.6% in 2010). National data indicates that the birth rate per 1,000 females in the 15-44 age range is almost 66 for Hispanics, compared to 56 for Whites and 62 for blacks, thus indicating that this trend will continue. In fact, it seems likely that one day during the past few months, Hispanics quietly surpassed Whites as the largest demographic category. The Black population percentage grew slightly over the decade, from 11.5% in 2010 to 11.8% in 2020, while the Asian population rose rapidly from 3.8% to 5.4%.

Data regarding race/ethnicity is complex; many people fall into multiple categories. For example, Hispanic individuals may be of any race, while some people are multiracial. Moreover, comparisons over time are complicated in that the manner in which the Census asks questions and compiles data has changed, and part of what we're seeing is better capturing of information. Nonetheless, the patterns clearly indicate increased diversity.

The Census Bureau maintains a Diversity Index (DI), which measures the probability that two people chosen at random will be from different racial/ethnic classifications. The DI is highest when all groups in an area have equal population shares. For the US, the DI increased to 61.1% in 2020 from 54.9% in 2010. Texas is one of the most diverse states in the nation; only Hawaii, California, Nevada, Maryland, and the District of Columbia have higher index values. The state's diversity index rose from 63.8 in 2010 to 67.0 in 2020.

The degree of diversity varies substantially across Texas. A number of the most diverse counties are in or near the Houston, Dallas, and Austin areas. The least diverse are generally along the Texas-Mexico border, where 90% or more of the population is often Hispanic, or in sparsely populated areas with large White concentrations.

Much of the information needed to fully understand the implications of these changes is not yet released, but we know that the fast-growing Hispanic group tends to have lower educational attainment and holds only about 5-6% of the state's household wealth. Clearly, future prosperity critically depends on ensuring that excellent public schools, affordable post-secondary training, and opportunities for success are readily available to these young Texans. Stay safe!