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Gen Z: More Diverse Than Previous Generations

FILE -- Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, left rear, sits on the floor with a group of students from Oakland's Falk School during the first-day-of-issue dedication of the Mister Rogers Forever Stamp in WQED's Fred Rogers Studio in Pittsburgh, March 23, 2018.

One in a series on Generation Z.

Over the next 10 years, Generation Z will grow in size and racial diversity to tip today’s minority population into a majority.

Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history, with 48% of Gen Z being nonwhite, according to Pew Research Center.

The implications of this demographic change are a political shift to the left, changes in education and other social changes, said William Frey, senior fellow and demographer at the Brookings Institution.

“The fact that white children under 15 have already become a minority in their age group puts an exclamation point on the fact that the nation’s diversity is percolating from the ‘bottom up’ as the white population ages,” Frey said.

Frey’s “bottom up” diversity is projected to grow, and will require governments and institutions to focus on a more racially diverse youth population, because they will be vital to the economic growth of the U.S.

While Gen Z is the most racially diverse generation in the U.S. because of an increase in first-generation U.S. births, there are fewer immigrants in the Gen Z population than in the millennial generation that preceded it, according to Pew.

The U.S. political scene will also begin to change to reflect the diverse Gen Zers, as demographics in the U.S. continue to change, according to experts.

“That’s changing much more rapidly in (Southern and Western) states that used to vote Republican,” Frey said. Those states are moving into the Democratic column, he added.

As of 2018, in the Western U.S., Gen Zers are as likely to be Hispanic as they are white, with each race accounting for about 40% of the population.

“Things were a lot closer in Texas (during the 2018 midterm elections) than people thought it was going to be, largely because of the strong minority vote for Democrats there,” Frey said.“And in fact, states like North Carolina, Florida ... in 2008, states that had long time voted Republican voted Democratic for (former President) Barack Obama, largely on the basis of younger racial minorities having very strong turnout.”

Predictably, Gen Zers, including Gen Z Republicans, view diversity as a good thing for society more than any other earlier generation, according to Pew.

When it comes to education, Gen Zers have the highest rate of educational attainment compared with their elders.

But despite also being the most diverse, “there are still sharp racial divisions, in terms of college, high school dropout rates, access to good post-secondary education, as opposed to a post-secondary education, which is not that quality,” Frey said.

“This kind of racial disparity still exists, and it is really important that the government takes the lead in trying to close that disparity,” he said.