Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: STEM Research
Yongpeng Zhang - Prairie View A&M University
With the aging of baby boomers, which represent 76 million people in the United States or 1/4 of the overall population in this country, it creates wide-ranging implications for virtually every facet of American society. On par with the aging baby boomers is the growing minority population. In the past decade, Hispanics grew by 15 million people. The African-American and Asian-American populations each increased by more than 4 million. Non-Hispanic whites made up 75% of the population in 1990, its proportion dropped to about 70% in 2000, and further down to 63% in 2012. If the changing trend continues as of the past two decades, non-Hispanic whites will be outnumbered by minorities in 2035. Today in many places including the densely populated states of California and Texas, non-Hispanic whites have already been in the minority. The momentous demographic shift of United States has and will continue to have a dramatic effect on business, lifestyle, and culture. For the children under age 18 nationwide, this minority-to-majority flip will happen soon. In Texas, the 2014 high school graduation seniors will be the last crop without a majority of Hispanic students, probably they are also the last without a majority of students from financial disadvantageous background. And the bulk of minority students especially Hispanics are further concentrated in the younger grades. Research indicates that there is a connection between parents’ socio-economic status and their children’s achievements in education and profession, consequently the social and economic disparities are often passed onto the next generation. As many minority students value education and perform very well academically and socially, many other families do not have access to information about the educational system in a way that helps support their children to be successful in the U.S. school system. In Texas, Latino children drop in 12-th grade at 35%, significantly higher than other groups. Among Hispanic students graduated from high school, few are prepared for college. In 2011, only 42% met college readiness benchmarks in both English and Math, compared with 65% of Anglo students. The gap is further widen among economically disadvantaged students that only 38% are qualified as ‘college ready’ in the college entrance exams. Today, completing a higher education not only means the enhancement of social status, but also means a better financial capability in the computerized society. Compared with high school graduates, bachelor degree recipients lifetime earning is 65% higher; associate degree recipients lifetime earning is 27% higher. In addition, the unemployment rate for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree has consistently been about half the unemployment rate for high school graduates. It indicates employees completed higher education with current technical skills and lifelong learning capability are much more valuable to the employers and in return, could command higher levels of compensation and stability. With increasing recognition of higher education, minority student postsecondary enrollment also achieved a steady increase in the past several decades. Considering the rapid minority population growth and minority-majority flip tendency, the significance of young minorities for the growth and vitality of our labor force and economy need to be particularly recognized. When an economic underclass becomes the majority, the class division between the embarrassingly wealthy and the unacceptably poor not only caused alienation, resentment, and social unrest, but also will affect the sustainability of economical prosperity.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This project is supported in part by National Science Foundation HBCU-UP award #1238859. Opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,