Guest post by Scott Sumner
There is a growing strand of thought on the conservative “alt-right” that worries about demographic change, especially changes triggered by immigration.
The percentage of Americans who are non-Hispanic white is projected to fall from 62.2% in 2014 to only 43.6% in 2060. The alt-right seems to have two worries about this:
- A growing minority population they say, especially Hispanics, will lead to American becoming poorer, more like a third world country.
- Non-whites are more likely to support socialist-type spending programs they say, partly because they are poorer, and partly because they lack the “Anglo-Saxon cultural tradition” of loving liberty.
I don't wish to discuss the validity of those worries, other than to say that I don't share this anxiety over demographic change.
Instead, I'd like to explore what America will look like in 2060. Below I provide the projections from the Census Bureau. Unfortunately, there was some double counting, as Hispanic non-whites were counted twice in the data, leading to the percentages adding up to a bit more than 100%. Thus, only the total Hispanic and the non-Hispanic white figures are accurate. I adjusted the other figures based on what we know today about the share of non-whites who are also Hispanic. In parentheses, I've added the unadjusted figures, which as I said add up to more than 100%. Fortunately, none of my later claims will hinge on the accuracy of these adjustments.
So that's the horror story that we are all supposed to fear.
Then I looked for a state that had some similar demographics right now, to get a sense of what it would be like to live in this sort of dystopian nightmare. And I found one — Texas! Indeed, the Lone Star state is even "worse" from a neo-reactionary perspective:
The non-Hispanic white share is almost identical to America in 2060. But the Hispanic share is actually much higher today in Texas than it will be in America in 2060. In contrast, the Asian share in Texas today is only half as large as expected in America in 2060. Why do I say this is "worse"? Because many of the people who complain about demographic change seem particularly worried about the growing Hispanic population. I even recall one popular "alt-right" type who referred to them as "rapists and drug dealers." In contrast, they often single out Asians as a "model minority" that has been quite successful in America.
Whatever you think of these demographic characterisations, one thing is clear: from a neo-reactionary perspective, the Texas of 2014 is even "worse" than the America of 2060.
I hope that by now you see the problem, or indeed a few problems:
- Neoreactionaries seem to think the America of 2060 will be a particularly inhospitable place for white people. And yet white folks are moving to Texas in droves. Indeed the only other state that comes close (in terms of absolute population growth) is Florida, which also has lots of blacks and Hispanics (but not very many Asians).
- The Texas economy is also highly successful. Even during the oil bust, people continue to move to Texas and its population continues to grow rapidly, up by nearly a half million (almost 2%) in the most recent year (mid-2014 to mid-2015). The unemployment rate is only 4.2%, close to the 4.0% considered optimal by Bernie Sanders. And this was accomplished despite the hemorrhaging of oil jobs.
- In electoral terms, Texas is a fairly conservative, small government state.
So there you have it. Theory falsified. The alt-right's looming demographic nightmare is best represented by Texas, a state that is economically quite successful, draws in lots of white migrants from other states, and votes conservative. (I wonder what their ideal state looks like? Maybe West Virginia, which is America's least Hispanic state.)
What about going further out than 2060? My response would be that no one knows what the distant future will look like. The Anglo-Saxon worries about Irish immigrants in the 1800s look ridiculous today. I'm not denying that demographics matter to some extent — I do believe that cultural differences can be important. I just think the worries about America are absurdly overdone. We'll be fine. And if we aren't, it won't be due to demographics.
Scott Sumner is the director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center and a professor at Bentley University. He blogs at the Money Illusion and Econlog.
This post first appeared at FEE.
- “The alt-right originated by looking at the left’s caricature of the right as racists and pro-white tribalists and saying, in effect: sure, we’ll be that … dressing up economic protectionism, white supremacism, and tribalism as a defense of western civilisation.
“The alt-right isn’t part of the intellectual traditions of the American right, nor is it an alternative to anything. It’s just the same old white-sheet set, repackaged with red ‘Make America Great Again’ golf caps. They’re serving as ignorant tools of the left, and they should be exposed as such.”
“White Sheets and Red Golf Caps” – Robert Tracinski, THE FEDERALIST
- “Most on the Alt-Right do not only reject the ‘conservative Establishment’ or some other contemporary bogeyman; they also reject the ideals of classical liberalism as such. That rejection grounds the thinking of Jared Taylor, and Richard Spencer, for instance — representative “intellectuals” of the Alt-Right, according to Bokhari and Yiannopoulos. These men — the founders of the publications American Renaissance and Radix Journal, respectively — have not simply been ‘accused of racism.’ They are racist, by definition. Taylor’s ‘race realism,’ for example, co-opts evolutionary biology in the hopes of demonstrating that the races have become sufficiently differentiated over the millennia to the point that the races are fundamentally — that is, biologically — different. Spencer, who promotes ‘White identity’ and ‘White racial consciousness,’ is beholden to similar ‘scientific’ findings.”
The Racist Moral Rot at the Heart of the Alt-Right – Ian Tuttle, NRO
- “’Such progressive exemplars as Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, and Edward A. Ross promoted an influential theory known as race suicide, Ross’s term for the notion that racially inferior immigrants, by undercutting American workers’ wages, outbred and displaced their Anglo-Saxon betters.’ Bigotry has always liked to borrow a veneer of intellectual backing, even as it dreams up forms of legal exclusion. …”
Trump: Cashing in on a century of fetid ideas – NOT PC
- “Australia’s refugee detention programme is supposed to save the country while saving the country money. Neither is true.”
Australia’s refugee detention programme “uneconomic, inhumane and flat-out stupid” – NOT PC