Arizona and Its Changing Demographics

Wed, 12 May 2010 19:06:38 +0000

The latest news from the Grand Canyon State is that the governor has signed a bill that "prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group."  The target is apparently a Mexican-American Studies program in the Tuscon school district.  Whether you like laws like this or the immigration law passed last month, they both seem to be desperate attempts to push back against the demographic trends that are going to shape the state's future.

A new report from the Brookings Insitution gives an indication that Arizona is just the leading edge of these demographic changes.  <!--break-->Using data from the 2008 American Community Survey, it shows that Arizona has the widest "cultural generation gap" of any state -- 43 percent of its child population is white compared to 83 percent of its senior population.  The post linked above raises a very interesting question and provides an even more interesting answer:

The appeal of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino messages among boomers and seniors may seem surprising especially because the former are so closely associated with 1960s era liberalism and Civil Rights. Yet this stereotype hardly applies to all boomers and recent presidential elections have shown them to be either politically split or, in the case of white boomer men, veering toward the right. Moreover, boomers grew up in a more insular America than did their parents or their children. Between 1946 and 1964, the years of the boom, the immigrant share of the nation’s population shrunk to an all-time low (under 5 percent) and those who did arrive were largely whites from Europe. Most boomers grew up and lived much of their lives in predominantly white suburbs, residentially isolated from minorities.