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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Whites a minority in US cities
A Hispanic family walks past a mural in Los Angeles
The urban Hispanic population is growing rapidly
White people make up less than 50% of the population of the 100 largest cities in the United States for the first time in history, census data show.

While they are a majority in 52 of the 100 largest cities, they make up only 44% of the total population of those cities.

White v non-white population of US cities, 1990 and 2000
In 1990, non-Hispanic whites were the majority population in 70 of the 100 largest US cities, making up 52% of the total.

Hispanics are the fastest growing urban group in the US, according to the census - increasing at a rate of 72% in the 20 fastest-growing cities, compared to 5% for whites.

Overall, US cities gained 3.8 million Hispanic residents, an increase of 43% on 1990.

Chicago, the third-largest city in the US, grew in the 1990s for the first time since 1950, partly due to an influx of over 200,000 Hispanics.

Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles would all have probably decreased in size in the 1990s but for Hispanic growth.

Implications

The change in demographics is likely to have a significant impact on public policy, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution told The New York Times.

Growth rates of various ethnic groups in the US, 1990 to 2000
Cities may have less money to work with, for example, because the average household income for a Hispanic family is about $14,000 per year less than for a white family.

Hispanic families therefore tend to pay less tax.

At the same time, they also tend to have more children than white families, placing greater demands on the education system.

The change is already making itself felt in politics, with the son of a Mexican immigrant, Antonio Villaraigosa, hoping to become the first Hispanic mayor of Los Angeles since 1872.

However there is no correlation between increased population and greater political power.

The New York Times pointed out that non-Hispanic whites are a minority overall in California, but nearly 75% of Californian voters in last November's elections were white.

At the same time, only 36% of California public (state) school pupils are white.

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See also:

28 Dec 00 | Americas
US population 'bigger than ever'
17 Apr 00 | Letter From America
The year of the census
12 Oct 99 | World population
World population: Special report
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