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Demographic trends under Trump

Summary:
A new Brookings article by William Frey discusses US demographic trends in recent years. One fact that jumps out is that for the first time ever the white (non-Hispanic) population is declining. Indeed the decline over the past three years has been sharp enough to offset gains prior to 2017, leading to the first decade of negative white growth: (Note that many Hispanics identify as white, so this is a bit misleading.) While the white non-Hispanic population declines, the black share of the population is fairly stable, edging up from 12.3% to 12.5%. It’s the other groups that are growing very fast, fed by immigration: Wasn’t Trump supposed to stop this immigration? Fortunately, just as Trump was too lazy to address Covid-19 or build the wall or repeal Obamacare

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A new Brookings article by William Frey discusses US demographic trends in recent years. One fact that jumps out is that for the first time ever the white (non-Hispanic) population is declining. Indeed the decline over the past three years has been sharp enough to offset gains prior to 2017, leading to the first decade of negative white growth:

Demographic trends under Trump
Demographic trends under Trump

(Note that many Hispanics identify as white, so this is a bit misleading.)

While the white non-Hispanic population declines, the black share of the population is fairly stable, edging up from 12.3% to 12.5%. It’s the other groups that are growing very fast, fed by immigration:

Wasn’t Trump supposed to stop this immigration? Fortunately, just as Trump was too lazy to address Covid-19 or build the wall or repeal Obamacare or build infrastructure or reduce the trade deficit, he was also too lazy to do much about immigration, which continued at roughly the same rate after he was elected. Legal immigration fell slightly, from about 1.18 million in fiscal 2016 to about 1.03 million in fiscal 2019, but the best estimates suggest that illegal immigration rose by a similar amount, leaving overall immigration little changed. What Trump did to is to skew immigration away from high skilled workers and toward low skilled workers.

As he gets more desperate, Trump is increasingly playing to his white nationalist base. But he’s not serving their interests. In the Alabama senate race, he’s opposing the most fervent supporter of his white nationalist policies, the man who supported Trump before anyone else—Jeff Sessions. This is good news. If the Trump movement switches from supporting alt-right ideals to a personality cult built around Trump, then his movement won’t survive after he passes from the scene. On the other hand a Tuberville win would be jumping from the pot into the fire. White nationalism would be weakened, but the politics of personality cults led by a macho leader would be strengthened.

Less fascist, more banana republic.

Happy Fourth of July!


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

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