Political Demography of a Contested Future: Demographic Transition, Age Groups, and Ethnic Divisions

Dowell Myers, University of Southern California

California is in the midst of a great demographic transition with several dimensions. From 1970 through 2030, the foreign stock is growing from a small percentage to more than 50% of the population, and the ethnic mix is passing from mostly white, to majority minority, and then majority Latino. Near the middle of the transition in 1990 through 2010, there is substantial political friction. Long established residents view immigrants as a burden and resist the decline of their own ethnic group. Whites have fallen to 32% of public school children, yet still hold a two-thirds majority among voters. Not yet seeing their interests tied to the rising generation, whites often vote against the interests of the incoming majority who are the future. This study integrates political opinion data with demographics of age, ethnicity, and nativity. A longer run demographic perspective helps place current decisions in better context.

Presented in Session 47: The Demography of California