California: Latino baby boom changing demographics of state

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Aug 29 13:16:18 UTC 2007

Latino baby boom changing demographics in
28th, 2007

Immigration is not the only force that changes the ethnic demographics of
the U.S. This article<>focuses
on the "Latino baby boom" in California and its implications for
early childhood education and for future questions surrounding racial and
ethnic identity.

Preschool teacher Sara Porras leans down to speak, first in English, then in
Spanish, to one of the toddlers she cares for at the Parkway Child
Development Center."Which one do you want?" Porras says to 2 1/2-year-old
Alicia Molina Correa, holding up a game and a puzzle with children on it.
"Cuál quieres, el juego o los niños?"

State demographers predict Latinos will be a majority of Californians by
mid-century, but in preschool classrooms like Porras', the future is now.

For the first time in modern history, most of the babies being born in
California are Latino, according to an analysis of state birth records
through 2005 by the Mercury News. Population estimates from the U.S. Census
Bureau also show that for the first time in 2004 more than half of the
children under age 5 in California are Latino.

2004 was the first full year when the number of babies born to Latina
mothers nudged past 50 percent of the children born in California; it
reached 51.5 percent in 2005. These newest Californians are the leading edge
of a Latino demographic surge that will remake the state in unknown ways
during the coming decades. But those changes, say demographers, will be
driven primarily by the birth of native-born children - not by immigration.

Every toddler in Porras' San Jose classroom one recent afternoon was Latino,
and demographers and educators say the state's future quality of life will
be determined - starting now - by the quality of education produced inside
thousands of similar classrooms. While more Latino babies are being born,
state birth records show the transition to a Latino majority among
California's youngest children is also caused by a 40 percent drop in the
number of children born to white and African-American mothers since 1990.

"The implications for the future are: We aren't talking about an ethnic
immigrant community, but an ethnic citizen community," said Harry Pachon,
president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute in Los Angeles, a think tank
that studies issues relating to Latinos.

But with more than 40 percent of Latinos marrying into other ethnic groups,
Pachon thinks the emerging majority will remake racial and ethnic identity
in California. "It might be that the white category might get a little bit
darker in California in the next 20 years," he said. "It's going to be
harder to talk about `them,' when it's really `us.' That's what the figures
seem to indicate."
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