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Race & Ethnicity percentages projected 2000 2030 Anglo 54.6 Black 11.4 Hispanic 31.0 Other 3.11 36.4 9.5 46.2 1.9 education crisis, income inequality and gap between the young and old… DOES TEXAS’ FUTURE ADD UP? By Melissa del Bosque 11P11OLITICIANS TEND TO THINK IN THE short term. Every two to four years, they pledge “no new taxes” and to “cut the fat from state government.” These slogans are alluring to voters in a state that prides itself on a lean state government. Demographers take a longer view, however. If Texas doesn’t invest now in its social services, especially education, household incomes will plummet by 2040, says Steve Murdock, a Rice University professor. “There is no more significant indicator for economic prosperity than education,” he says. Murdock has been sounding the alarm about Texas’ dismal education numbers and the growing gap between rich and poor since he served as the state’s demographer at the beginning of the decade. For legislators, 2040 might seem far away, but for a demographer like Murdock, it’s just around the corner. If state leaders don’t change course now, they’ll face a host of problems later: lower wages, a greater need for social services and a decline in the quality of living for Texans. By 2040, there will be an estimated 33 million people living in the state. Texas residents will be divided into two camps: the young and the old. A majority of the younger population will be Hispanic, while the state’s older residents will be predominantly Anglo. The key to a viable future, Murdock says, is for Texas’ two dominant populations to “realize that they need one another.” Education Gap Texas’ prosperity hinges on education. The numbers are troubling, however. The state ranks 36th in the nation, with just 71.9 percent of students graduating from high school, according to the U.S. Department of Education. African-American and Hispanic students are twice as likely to drop out as Anglo students. By 2040, at least 30 percent of Texas’ work force will consist of workers without a high-school diploma if current READ more about Texas’ plan to improve higher education rates tx1o.comigaps ISTOCKPHOTO THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9