Implications for Texas


            Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here and have a chance to talk to you about something that’s a very dear topic to me. I call it the Texas challenge, looking at population change and what the implications of those changes are for Texas.

            Now, like some of my colleagues—not really this group, this group is pretty restrained—but like some of my other demographic colleagues I may get just a little bit preachy during this discussion. Now, if I do, I will do so because some of you probably know that demography is a divine calling. We know it is because there’s a Book of Numbers in the Bible, and it’s all about censuses.

            What I want to do is talk about some major demographic trends that I argue are so important that if we do not understand them for Texas, we cannot effectively plan for the future of Texas. Normally I look at four, but because of time I will examine just three of these changes. I am going to discuss rates and sources of population growth in Texas. I’m going to look at the aging of the population (although John’s done a very good job of looking at that nationally), and I’m going to look at the increase in the minority population.

            What I want to do relative to each of these is to give you a little history and then talk about why they are important—why should you care about these demographic trends anyway? You are not, after all, a bunch of pointed-head, ivory-tower academic demographers. You people do things in the real world, so why should you care about these factors? And then we will discuss the future and some of the work we have done examining some of the implications of these particular factors.

            Let us start off by looking at population growth. Here is a chart that shows that in every decade since Texas allowed the U.S. to join it, it has grown more rapidly than the country as a whole. If you look at the most recent decades, you see we grew by 27 percent from 1970 to 1980, compared to 11 percent in the country as a whole; in the 1980s by 19 percent, although we often think of that period as a relatively slow growth period; and in the 1990s—and the most recent data we have is for July 1, 1999—we have increased our population about 18 percent, again, not quite twice as fast as the country as a whole.

Figure 1

            When you look at trends in Texas population—and you’ll have to excuse this chart. I have a colleague at Texas A&M who says, “Do you know what I like about you, Murdock? You take a chart, put 800 numbers on it, put it in front of a group of people, and then you say, ‘As you can plainly see.’” Well, this is one of my as-you-can-plainly-see charts.

Figure 2 

            Really the part that is important in this chart is this very bottom line. Populations grow by one of two mechanisms: natural increase, which is the excess of births over deaths, and through migration. And migration can be immigration from other countries or it can be domestic migration, migration from other states. One important thing in this bottom line is that 58 percent of all Texas population growth in the 1990s—and this is not atypical for Texas—has been as a result of natural increase, the excess of births over deaths.

            So to put it in another way, if nothing happens to cause immigration or migration to Texas, we increase our population almost 200,000 persons a year just as a result of natural increase.

            Well, how phenomenal is that rate of natural increase? Well, if Texas had no other population growth for the last several years except natural increase, we would have still been the third fastest-growing state in the entire country just because of our level of natural increase.

            The second thing that’s important here is to note that we had about 715,000 immigrants. That is a relatively large number of immigrants. But often I am asked whether we are a lot like California or like New York. If the reason for asking this is to ask whether we are a large state—yes, we are the second largest state, having surpassed New York in the early part of the 1990s—then it is an appropriate question, or if it is to ask if we are a diverse state, then it is an appropriate question. But if it is to suggest that we had the same level of immigration as those two states, it is incorrect in this sense. The number of immigrants for California for the same period of time was 2.3 million immigrants, and for New York it was 1.2 million immigrants.

            The other factor that is different is this third factor. We had 571,000 persons who came to Texas from other states. Both California and New York lost more people to other states than they gained from other states during this particular period of time.

            If you look at our growth, it has been such that from 1990 to 1999 we increased our population by three million persons. To put that in perspective, that is roughly equivalent to having added another city of Houston plus another city of San Antonio to our population in just nine years. We are the eighth fastest-growing in percentage terms, and you can see the states that are growing faster in percentage terms are relatively smaller. And if you look at us in terms of the largest states, only Florida and Georgia are growing anywhere nearly as rapidly as we are.

            New York, for example, has increased its population by only 1.1 percent. I like to say that that is proof positive that you cannot have extensive population growth if you have bad picante sauce.

            Our growth is not everywhere, however. If you look at Texas, there are really three parts of Texas that are growing quite rapidly. One area is along the Texas and Mexico border, so Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville are three of the four fastest-growing metropolitan areas in Texas, and Laredo and McAllen were the second and third fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the entire country from 1990 to 1998.

            The second area is down through what I refer to as the central corridor of Texas, taking I-35 from Dallas–Ft. Worth, going all the way down to San Antonio. You can see rapid growth there. And the third area is in the Houston area, which you can see has increased by over 600,000 persons. But there are areas that are growing slowly as well: parts of West Texas, parts of the Panhandle, parts of East Texas and Southeast Texas are growing much more slowly.

            Our growth in fact is such that one of the things we need to recognize in Texas is that we have become a very large, a very urban, a very complex state. After all, as you know, we have three of the ten largest cities in the United States. We have more metropolitan areas than any other state in the country. We are the fourteenth most urban in percentage terms.

            This chart shows population change, with the darker shading showing faster growth, you see a crescent of rapid population growth in East and Central Texas. We did a little article that was picked up by the Wall Street Journal about a year ago, and we pointed out that if you start over at Longview–Marshall, go all the way over to Denton, go on down I-35 down to San Antonio, and go down I-10 to Houston and Beaumont, what you will find is that we are now three counties away from having a contiguous metropolitan area of 13.1 million persons that would be larger in geographical size than L.A. and would be third behind New York and L.A. in terms of population size, and two of these three counties are metropolitanizing relatively rapidly.

Figure 3 

            One of the things to recognize is although most parts of Texas have increased—about 190 of Texas’s 254 counties increased in the 1990s—that growth is yet quite concentrated. For example, if you take natural increase, basically one of every three people born in Texas is born in either Harris County or Dallas County.

            If you look at domestic migration—now, this is that high-tech migration that we often hear a lot about—80 percent of all the people who came to Texas from other states went to just five counties: Collin County and Denton County in the Dallas area, Ft. Bend and Montgomery in the Houston area, and Williamson County in the Austin area. And if you look at immigration in terms of destinations, 50 percent of all of our immigrants go to just three counties: Harris County, Dallas County, and El Paso County.

            Let us turn to aging. One of the things that John pointed out is the fact that we are aging as a population, and this is true in Texas as well. When you look at this chart you might think this is a chart that only a demographer could love, because what it shows is the median age in Texas in 1990 was 30.8 years. Now, if I look at this group correctly, many of us would like to be that age again indeed.

Figure 4 

            But what’s important about our aging both in the country and in Texas is the relative rapidity with which we are now aging. Let me give you an example for Texas.

            In 1950 the median age in Texas was 27.9 years. In 1980, 30 years later, it was 28 years. We increased median age by one-tenth of one year in 30 years. Then from 1980 to 1990 we got three years older in median age terms, and when the 2000 census comes out it will show that we will have become older again.

            Why are we aging? John pointed this out very well. We are aging because of an infamous group of people called the baby boomers, those people born between 1946 and 1964. They are about 30 percent of the U.S. population. They are about 30 percent of the Texas population. As they go, so goes the country in many ways.

            If you look at the 1980s, this group in this chart was the baby boomers, and they have been the fastest-growing group again this decade. And if you do not believe they are an important group of people, if you travel quite a bit, like many of you do, one of the things you will probably find, like I have found, is that every major media market in America that I have been to has an oldies radio station. Now, what do they play? Fifties, ‘60s, ‘70s music.

            Now, personally I refer to those as classics, but why are they playing that music—because they love us? No, because they love our money, and the important thing about this group of people is to know that yes, in the long run their aging leads to the kind of issues we have talked about on social security and other factors. But it is also important to remember that their immediate effect is to make us a middle-aged society.

            It is probably more appropriate to refer to us between now and about 2020 or 2030 as a middle-aged society than it is an elderly society, and when you begin to look at that group of people, that means that many of the factors we are talking about between now and then are going to involve middle-age issues.

            The second factor is that there is a clear relationship in Texas and in the United States between minority status and youth status. This is our estimate for 1998, but our 1995 estimate showed the same thing, and that is that for the population under 25 years of age, already half of that population was non-Anglo. It was composed of African American, Hispanic, Asian, or members of other racial and ethnic groups. On the other hand, if you took the population 65-plus, it was about 74 percent Anglo.

            Another factor that may be important for Texas is the increase in its minority population. I think it is the most important factor for Texas because Texas was already by 1990 a very large minority state. By 1990 four of every ten Texans were minority population members. About the same percentage of our population is African American as in the country as a whole—about 12 percent—but whereas about 9 percent of the U.S. population in 1990 was Hispanic, about 26 percent of Texas population was Hispanic and basically one of every five Hispanics in the country lives in Texas.

            About 2 or 3 percent are in the “Other” category, which, as we define it, consists primarily of Asians, although it also includes American Indians and others.

            If you want to get an idea of why ethnic and minority issues are so important to Texans, let me just show you where Texas ranks in terms of other states. We have the second largest Hispanic population, the third largest African American population, the fourth largest Asian or Pacific Islander population. And yes, we have the eighth largest American Indian population of any state in the country.

            Why are these differences so important demographically? If you look at the Anglo or non-Hispanic White population, in the ‘80s it increased by 10 percent; the Black population increased 17 percent; the Hispanic population, 45 percent; the “Other” population, 78 percent. Now, notice that that 78 percent is on a relatively small base, but if you look at net population change, what is interesting here is that one out of every two net additions to Texas population in the 1980s was Hispanic and two of every three were non-Anglo.

            If you think the 1980s was a long time ago, let me show you the 1990s. The 1990s followed a similar pattern. Although these numbers are smaller because they are for eight years and not for ten years, you can see that the relative magnitude of growth is the same. And in fact when you look at net change, what is interesting is whereas 49 percent of the net population increase in Texas in the ‘80s was Hispanic, the census bureau estimates that 58 percent of the growth in the 1990s was due to the Hispanic population.

            If you add all non-Anglo populations together, non-Anglos accounted for 66 percent of the net population growth in Texas in the 1980s but for 75 percent of net population growth in the 1990s.

            But what are some of the implications of these demographic changes? Why should you care about these dull old demographic factors anyway? I argue that for a variety of historical, discriminatory, and other reasons, these demographic characteristics are tied to socioeconomic characteristics, so knowing these linkages and understanding how they may affect our population becomes not only a demographic issue but a social and economic issue.

            Here is a chart that I find very, very depressing, because it is a chart that shows that all other things being the same, we make as much money as we are going to make when we are middle-aged, and we make less money when we are younger and when we are older. This means I am making as much money as I am ever going to make, and that is indeed depressing.

Figure 5 

            The same thing is true for societies. If they are concentrated in younger or older ages, all other things being the same, they are poorer than if they are concentrated in middle ages.

            Unfortunately what you find, depending upon the time and the place, is that African American and Hispanic incomes are between 55 and 75 percent of the incomes of Anglos. I also want to point out that in 1990, 55 percent of adult Hispanics in Texas had less than a high school level of education.

            This has had a great deal of personal meaning to me. I have been at Texas A&M—well, almost forever. I am in my 24th year—and that does not seem like so long to me, but I can tell you when you go in front of a group of 18-year-olds and they say, “How long have you been here?” and you say, “Twenty-four years,” you look at those faces and you know they are thinking, “My God, this man has been here longer than I’ve been alive. How old must he be?”

            Well, one of the things that has bothered me all the time I have been there is that every president we have had has been smarter than I am, and I could never figure out why. I asked my colleagues; I didn’t like their answers. I asked my family; I really didn’t like their answers. But then I found this chart. It shows SAT scores, and I can tell you it would not matter whether we had such a chart for Texas or California or any other state. It would not matter whether we had 1997 or 1999 or 1989 or some other year.

 Figure 6 

            What you would see is that as your income goes up, whether we are talking about the verbal or the math score, so your score goes up. This means that all of those presidents have been smarter than I am because they have made more money than I have. It also means that all we need to do if we want to make Texans smarter is make them richer.

            Well, where was Texas as we entered the 1990s? And I want to take just a minute to note that we have some new data that came out about a month ago, and I will tell you where we rank now. In terms of median household income, we ranked 32nd as we entered the ‘90s and as we entered 2000 we ranked number 31 among all the states. We stayed at our 31st ranking on per capita income.

            In terms of the percentage of our population made up of high school graduates, we ranked 39th in the 1980s—and if these estimates are correct—we now rank 45th in the country. We continue to rank 23rd among all the states in terms of the percentage of our adult population made up of college graduates.

            So where are we going? We project Texas will have about 34 million people by 2030. That is a lot of growth from about the 20 million that we have today, but it is slower growth than we have had for the last couple of years. If the growth rates of the last couple of years were to continue, we would have more like 38 million people rather than 34 million people.

            What may be most critical relative to some of the factors we talk about is that we project by 2008—and I now believe it will be before 2005—Texas will be less than half Anglo in terms of its total population and that by 2030 it will be about 36 percent Anglo, about 10 percent African American, about 46 percent Hispanic, and about 8 percent will be members of other racial and ethnic groups.

            We will also get older. By 2030 about 18 percent, about one in every six Texans, will be 65 years of age or older. But there is something else here that is important to know. Note that in that period of time, about 25 percent of Anglos will be 65-plus, but less than 12 percent of Hispanics will be 65-plus.

            One time when I gave this presentation, a gentleman said, “Aren’t you saying we are going to have a group of old Anglos being taken care of by a large group of young minorities?” That is absolutely correct as you begin to look at the population dynamics in Texas. Eighty-seven percent of the net additions to Texas population between now and 2030 are projected to be minority population members.

            What are some of the implications of these patterns? A few years ago, we completed an analysis for the Texas Legislative Council (which is one of two groups that directly serve the Legislature of Texas) of the implications of these demographic trends for Texas, if they go forward with the socioeconomic relationships that we have discussed today, and if we do nothing to change these relationships.

            The population changes from about 61 percent of our population being Anglo to about 37 percent; a similar proportional change is shown for households. The labor force goes from about two-thirds Anglo in 1990 to two-thirds minority by 2030.

            By 2030, one of every ten kids in Texas public schools would be minority population members. Sometimes when I give that statistic people say that sounds too high. Well, already last fall it was 55 percent statewide. If you take our largest school districts, the Houston Independent School District and the Dallas Independent School District, what do you think the minority proportions were last fall? Ninety percent in both school districts.

            By 2030 about 60 percent of all kids in Texas colleges and universities will be minority population members, and—very important for the private sector—by 2030 half the household income would come from a household that had a minority population head as well as about half of all the consumer expenditures. Somewhat over 50 percent, in fact, of all consumer expenditures would come from households that have a minority population head.

            What are some of the other implications of this? If we do not change the socioeconomic differentials that exist in Texas society, Texas labor force in 2030 will be less well educated than it is today, and in fact, the Texas population will also be poorer.

            We took our figures and looked at what it meant in terms of household change, for the college age population. What we found is that if we do not change the socioeconomic differentials in Texas population, the average Texas household in 2030 would be $4,000 poorer in 1990 constant dollars than it is today, and we would be poorer indeed with about a 3 percent increase in our poverty rate.

            Well, let me briefly summarize, because I must be about out of time. What do these three factors mean, and what are some of their implications? First of all in regard to population change, under almost any scenario I can see, Texas is likely to have continued population growth, and that does not mean continued population growth at the same rate that we have had in the last few years. But the reason I am relatively confident that we will continue to have at least modest growth is because of our natural increase rate.

            All other things being the same, we are increasing our population about 200,000 persons a year just as a result of natural increase. That growth will not be everywhere. It will be different from area to area, and planning for long-term growth particularly as we look at environmental issues will become increasingly important.

            What about the aging of the population? There are two or three things about this that I would like to comment on very quickly.

            One of these is that in the long run we have some very difficult decisions to make about the elderly. Lester Thurow, in a book called The Future of Capitalism, frankly suggests that we will not be able to afford to support the baby boomers when they are elderly in the manner to which their parents have become accustomed. The reality of it is that the resource allocation picture is likely to have to change between the young and the old, depending on what we want to do relative to our future.

            There’s a second thing about the aging that we need to recognize, however. If we look at the relationship between middle aging and income, the fact that all other things being the same we make as much money as we are going to make when we are middle-aged and we have less money when we were younger and when we were older suggests that if we are going to fix the things that need to be fixed in Texas, we had better do it now. It will not be easier when one in six Texans is 65 years of age or older and on some form of fixed income.

            And there’s a third factor. I bring this up with a lot of hesitation because it is controversial, but I think we must talk about it. We must discuss it openly.

            I do a lot of discussions, a lot of presentations to school officials, and recently I’ve had things happen that have bothered me in conversations with a couple of superintendents who have come up to me and said, “You know the chart that you showed that indicated that the minority population is primarily young and the Anglo population is older?” And I say, “Yes.” And one of these gentlemen said, “Let me tell you about my school bond issue that failed.”

            And he said, “You know, when I checked to see the areas where it failed, I found it failed in areas of my district that were primarily residence areas for Anglos, and older Anglos particularly.” And in one of these areas one superintendent said, “One of these gentlemen actually said to me, ‘Look. I am not ready to raise my taxes to educate—quote—those people’s kids.’” There’s a danger for Texas in our demographics, and that is we cannot let the divide between old Anglos and young minorities become a dangerous chasm between different parts of our population.

            If I as an aging Anglo do not understand that when I am retired, the quality of roads that I will have, the quality of police services and fire services will depend upon how well the working age population is doing—and that working age population will be primarily minority. If I forget that, it will be to my own detriment. We must recognize that our fates are interrelated.

            Finally, let me comment on the most important factor, Texas’s changing racial/ethnic composition. I argue that the most important factor for Texas is to increase the socioeconomic achievement of our minority populations. I could argue this from some social, humanitarian, or egalitarian perspective, which I might, but I could be the biggest bigot that ever walked the face of Texas, and I would have to say the same thing: Why?

            Because I know demographically that 87 percent of the net additions to our population between now and 2030 are likely to be minority. I know that by 2030 two of every three of our workers, seven of every ten students in our elementary and secondary schools, six of every ten kids in colleges, and over half of our consumer expenditures are going to come from households that have a minority population head. And if we do not change the socioeconomic differentials that are out there, Texas will be poorer, Texas will be less competitive in the future than it is today.

            The reality of it is that the future of Texas is tied to its minority populations, and how well they do is how well Texas will do.

            Thank you.