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Mining past and future census data to predict diversity in race, income and aging

By Kouichi Shirayanagi

The United States is becoming increasingly racially diverse, especially in the West, Southwest and Southeast. However, the Midwest and New England still remain heavily white.

The Hispanic population is growing at the fastest rate. Stephanie Ewert, chief of the Foreign-Born Population Branch at the U.S. Census Bureau, said that especially among children, the percentage of the US population that identifies as Hispanic was 17.1 percent in of 2013. However, by 2060 that number is expected to grow to 30.6 percent, she said.

During the same time period, the percentage of the population that identifies as only white will decline from 62.5 percent in 2013 to 42.6 percent in 2060. The non-Hispanic black population is expected to remain about the same, and the Asian population is expected to grow slightly.

By 2043, whites will no longer be the majority demographic. Instead, they will be a plurality.

During his time at USA TODAY, Paul Overberg led a project on the changing demographics of America. The newspaper developed a diversity index to measure how diverse states, counties and cities are. The question asked was, “If you took two people at random in a particular geographic region, how likely are the two people going to be the same race?”

Overberg, who is now at the Wall Street Journal, said every Gannett newspaper got data from the diversity test and some tried different ways to localize the story. A few Canadian newspapers even tried to take the US story and use it for one about demographics in Canada.

Joe Germuska from the NU Knight Lab said that there are several indices that measure diversity:

See Joe Germuska’s slides from the session, “The way we look next: Mining past and future census data to predict diversity in race, income and aging,” here.

Kouichi Shirayanagi is a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism. Last summer he worked at the business page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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