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These NC Counties Will Be Majority Minority By 2025

The United States is becoming more diverse.
Vintage 2017 Population Estimates

By 2025, projections show North Carolina will have 23 counties in which non-Hispanic whites are not the majority race, sometimes referred to as a majority minority population.

Already, the state has 19 such counties, up from 16 in 2010. And in all but 11 counties, the minority population is outpacing the white population in terms of growth, according to Census Bureau figures.

In North Carolina, the change has come largely through natural increase, according to Rebecca Tippett, founding Director of Carolina Demography at the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill which started in 2013. That means simply that the population as a whole has more births than deaths.

"More diverse populations tend to be a little younger, which means they are more likely to be able to grow from what's called natural increase," said Tippett. "They are more likely to have more babies than they are to die."

Data bear this out. Non-Hispanic whites outnumber minorities by wider margins in older age groupings than in younger groupings. For example, there are twice as many whites age 18 and above than minorities of the same age group. But there are nearly as many minorities as whites when looking only at those under the age of 18.

Not surprisingly, counties with older populations tend to be less diverse.

"There's many counties now in North Carolina where the 65-plus population outnumbers the under 18 population, and so those counties tend to be a little bit less diverse," said Tippett. "They also tend to be the counties where we're seeing some of those population declines."

Similar trends are happening around the nation. A recent study published by Applied Population Lab found that in 2016, for the first time in history, more non-Hispanic whites in the United States died than were born. This was true for a growing number of states as well. In 2016, the study found more non-Hispanic white deaths than births in 26 states, including North Carolina. In 2004, there were just four states for which that was true. Furthermore, the study authors expect the trend to continue.

"Natural decrease is the ultimate demographic consequence of population aging, low fertility, and a diminishing childbearing-age population. The rapid rise in the number of U.S. states experiencing white natural decrease reflects the demographic changes underway," according to the authors. "Our analysis suggests that more states are likely to experience white natural decrease in the near future."

Jason deBruyn is the WUNC health reporter, a beat he took in 2020. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016.
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