With the country becoming more diverse, it makes sense to examine the views of Americans towards the future demographic make-up of the U.S. How open are we to this diversity? Do we see more opportunities or more challenges with increasing racial and ethnic diversity? Do we support or oppose policies and investments to help reduce these inequalities? The Center for American Progress and PolicyLink released All-In Nation: An America that Works for All answering these and other questions.
One of the largest studies of its kind, the findings are based on 3,000 interviews with a cross-section of Americans, with oversamples of African-Americans, Latinos and Asian American communities. Generally they found that “Americans are much more open to diversity and more supportive of steps to reduce racial inequalities than is commonly portrayed in politics and the media. Furthermore, Americans are more likely to see opportunities from rising diversity than they are to see challenges.” Other key findings include:
- Americans vastly overestimate the current and future levels of diversity. They think that minorities already comprise 49 percent of the population, while the percent is actually about 37 percent. They also predict that 62 percent of the country will be people of color, but the Census Bureau predicts that figure will be closer to 53 percent.
- Despite general acceptance of the new demographics, views change by race and ethnicity, as well as age and education level. Generally, openness to rising diversity goes up with age, education and people of color.
- The greatest benefit from rising diversity is more economic growth and greater innovation and competitiveness.
- Lower education levels for black and Latinos and poverty level wages are seen as the most serious problems associated with inequality. The top three facts of greatest concern were: 1) the low scores in math and reading among black and Latino eighth graders; 2) the fact that a quarter of all jobs pay below poverty-level wages; and 3) that one in four children under the age of 5 lives in poverty, including two in five black and Latino children.
Two hopeful thoughts emerge from this study. First, those who are most open to diversity are in the two areas of the population that are growing the fastest – minority groups and the younger generation. This suggests that the future will only become more accepting of diversity. Secondly, there is a glimmer of understanding that the problems of inequality begin with our youngest children. What we have come to learn at The Early Years Institute is that not only do the problems begin early, but the attitudes towards diversity start early as well.