Want to know what the U.S. of tomorrow will look like? Check out the schools

Thousands of children across the country returned to school on Tuesday morning and, at least in some states, odds are that an increasing proportion of those children were Hispanic.

If the baby boom was one of the defining demographic trends of the past few decades, the growing Hispanic population will be one of the next. And almost nothing shows what that future will look like as clearly as the school population.

At 59 percent, the share of Hispanic students in grades 1 to 12 in New Mexico was higher than in any other state in 2011, according to Census data. California was next with 51 percent. While non-Hispanic white students still made up a majority of nursery school students in 2011, their share had dropped from 69 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2011. Hispanics made up 20 percent of the nursery-school population in 2011, up from 14 percent in 2000.

The Census mapped out that 2011 data in a new report out Tuesday. And the map looks an awful lot like what the general United States population is projected to look like in 2040, at least according to a recent projection from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The Center estimates that Hispanics will make up the largest share of the population in New Mexico, California and Texas at 62 percent, 56 percent and 55 percent, respectively. You can compare maps of the 2011 school enrollment and 2040 population projections below.


Hispanic school enrollment, 2011. (Source: Census.)

Hispanics as a percentage of the projected 2040 population, by state:

(Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.)

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.

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