July 8, 2014

A view of the future through kindergarten demographics

Today’s kindergartners offer a glimpse of tomorrow’s demographics. A new data analysis by Pew Research Center finds a big increase over the past decade in the number of states where at least one-in-five public school kindergartners are Latino.

There are 17 states where Latino children comprise at least 20% of the public school kindergarten population, according to our analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data. By comparison, just eight states had such a composition a decade earlier, in 2000.
Hispanic Kindergartners in America

At 54 million, Hispanics are the largest minority group. They make up 17% of the nation’s population, and have dispersed across the nation. The states where at least one-in-five kindergartners are Hispanic include some states with historically few Hispanic immigrants, such as Nebraska, Idaho and Washington. In Kansas and Oregon, fully one-in-four kindergartners are Hispanic, the same share as in New York, which has the fourth-largest Hispanic population in the country.  

Fueled in part by Hispanic population growth, there may be more minorities in classrooms when school starts this fall (among them blacks, Asians and Hispanics) than white students nationwide in K-12 public schools, according to U.S. Department of Education projections. In 2014, some 50.3% of students are projected to be minorities. That’s a sharp increase from 1997, when minorities made up just 36.7% of students.

Minorities also are expected to become the majority in the United States in the coming decades. Minorities today make up about 37% of the overall population, with the share projected to increase to 57% by 2060, according to the Census Bureau. Among people of all ages, there are four states where minorities make up a majority of the population—California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas.

Looking ahead, nearly half of babies born in the U.S. today are a racial or ethnic minority, though they are not yet a majority. The number of Hispanics has increased in recent years primarily due to births, as the number of Hispanic immigrants has stalled after four decades of rapid growth. In 2012, one-in-four of the nation’s newborns were Hispanic. By 2060, Hispanics are projected to make up 31% of the overall U.S. population.

Topics: Education, Population Trends, Population Geography, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Population Projections

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Steve Biko3 years ago

    This all means African-Americans don’t have enough kids. This is a very odd behavior for any poor minority group, who usually have a higher birth rate than wealthy ones. Or, it means that whites’ racism policies are working pretty well: withold as many good things from blacks, so they die sooner. Afram life expectation has been lower than whites throughout history.

    Bottom line: Whites making blacks poor, because poverty kills, is working.

  2. Mike Welsh3 years ago

    A quarter-century ago, the demographers Frank and Deborah Popper studied the population shifts on the Great Plains (the result being their highly controversial “Buffalo Commons” thesis). The audiences in Great Plains towns focused on the issues of government “takeover” of private lands and making them into a giant national park, stocked with buffalo and other wild game, for tourists. Lost amid the debates were their charts (based on the 1980 and 1990 censuses), showing that the only rural counties on the Plains (one-quarter of the US land mass) that were growing faster than the national average were those where American Indian and/or Latino populations also grew. No surprise, then, to see Plains states (and the Pacific Northwest) now witnessing a rise in Latino kindergartners. This demographic shift didn’t come upon America quickly, nor did it happen in the dark.

  3. Jake3 years ago

    How does the study deal with the increasing number of mixed race children? What if a student is a quarter minority or half? Do they round down with the quarter and up with the half? I would also be interested in the number of mixed race children in general.

    1. AN3 years ago

      I am also interested in study researching mixed race children. Would you identify a child as Hispanic if she/he is half Hispanic and half White?

      1. Alex3 years ago

        Hispanic is an origin, not a race. You have white hispanics, black hispanics, indian hispanics, mixed race hispanics, etc.

      2. Axel3 years ago

        Hispanic isn’t a race, there are white hispanics, black hispanics and so on. 90% of hispanics/Latinos identify as white on the US Census. In 2060, non-hispanic whites will be 43% of the population… Whites IN GENERAL will still be about 70% of the population.