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The Arizona Republic

Hispanic Births Pass Anglos' In Arizona

Kerry Fehr-Snyder

8 January 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved.

More Arizona babies were born to Hispanic women in 2003 than to their White, non-Hispanic counterparts, another reflection of the state's fast-growing Hispanic population.

That could explain how Jose became the most popular boy's name in the state last year, nudging aside Jacob and the long-running No. 1, Michael.

"What it really means to Arizona is that eventually Arizona will have come full circle," said Loui Olivas, a professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

"Every demographer I've talked to thinks the majority of Arizona's population will be Hispanic by 2035 or 2045," he said.

Olivas said he believes the minority-majority status will occur by 2035.

In the latest compilation of birth and ethnicity, 39,101 babies were born to Hispanic women in 2003, compared with 38,842 babies born to Anglo women.

The 2004 statistics won't be available until late June, said Christopher Mrela, assistant registrar of vital statistics at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

What's fueling Hispanic birth rates, Olivas said, is the group's median age in Arizona: 24.1 vs. 36 for all other ethnic groups combined.

That means the Hispanic population in general is of prime reproductive age, with half being younger than 24 and half being older.

The median age for Anglo residents in the state is 38, by comparison.

"So it stands to reason that the younger population always will have more children," Olivas said.

"From a cultural perspective, Hispanics also have larger families because (many) Catholics, obviously, do not believe in birth control," he added.

"It's not a race of who's going to have more kids. It's a natural loving thing to have more kids."

Add biology to the demographic and cultural trends fueling the baby boom. In Arizona, the Hispanic fertility rate is 110 per 1,000. For all other ethnic groups, the fertility rate drops to about 60 per 1,000. And for White non-Hispanic women, the rate is about 40 per 1,000.

Mrela compiled his annual list of most popular baby names for 2004, which was released Monday.

His list shows that Michael, the most popular baby boy name in 1974, 1984 and 1994, fell to No. 6 last year.

Jessica and Jennifer took a similar tumble, falling off the top 10 list for baby girl names and ranking No. 12 and 13, respectively in 2004.

Unlike baby boy names, it is difficult to discern the ethnicity of baby girl names as few have a clear basis in Hispanic culture, save for the popular Isabella, ranking No. 2.

Regardless of what name the next generation of Arizonans carry, one thing is clear: the booming Hispanic population will continue to have an impact on everything from political representation to marketing to school enrollment.

"It will continue to contribute to the Latinization of Americans and the Americanization of Latinos," said Jose Cardenas, host of the public affairs talk show Horizonte and chairman of the Phoenix law firm Lewis and Roca. "We have both some tremendous opportunities and some tremendous challenges."

Most popular baby names


1. Jose

2. Jacob

3. Anthony

4. Daniel

5. Angel

6. Michael

7. Jesus

8. Joshua

9. David

10. Joseph


1. Emily

2. Isabella

3. Emma

4. Madison

5. Ashley

6. Samantha

7. Alexis

8. Abigail

9. Alyssa

10. Elizabeth

Source: Arizona Department of Health Services

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