prises much of the city’s metropolitan area, and today there is no predominant majority in the county (Figure 4.1).

Today, Houston has a more even balance among the four ethnic communities than any of the other “multiethnic melting pot” American cities. It has more African Americans than Los Angeles, more Asians than Miami, and more Hispanics than San Francisco. This is where the four communities meet in a more equal division than anywhere else, said Klineberg. In that sense, it represents a test case for the rest of the state and the country. According to the U.S. Census, by early 2005, Texas will have joined California as a “majority minority” state, and it is projected that the United States as a whole will attain that status before the middle of this century. Thus, Houston’s ability to navigate its demographic transition successfully could have enormous significance not just for the city’s future but for America’s future as well.

Accompanying this “browning” trend is a “graying” trend: as people continue to live longer, healthier lives and baby boomers move into retirement, the U.S. population aged 65 and older will double in the next 25 years. These older individuals will be overwhelmingly Caucasian, while younger Americans will be disproportionately non-Caucasian. For 22 years, Klineberg has been conducting the annual Houston Area Survey that confirms the following trend: the Caucasian population is getting older, while there is virtually no aging trend among the African Americans or Hispanics.

FIGURE 4.1 The population of Harris County, Texas, has shifted from predominantly Caucasian in 1980 to culturally and ethnically diverse in 2000, such that no ethnic group is a majority in the county. SOURCE: U.S. Census. Reprinted with permission.

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