A Nation of None and All of the Above

Publication: The New York Times

Author: Sam Roberts

08/16/2008 - Deep inside a data dump by the Census Bureau last week was a startling racial projection: By midcentury, the United States will be home to 80 million more white people.

Never mind, for a moment, that the bureau also predicts that Americans who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American-Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander will constitute a majority of the population by 2042. The number of people who say they are white is projected to rise by about two million every year.

At that rate, even while the Hispanic and Asian populations expand enormously, the proportion of Americans who identify themselves as white will barely shrink, from a little more than 79 percent, to 74 percent.

It’s not some new math metric that’s responsible. It’s the way the government defines race: most people who describe their origin or heritage as Hispanic or Latino also identify themselves as white.

* * *

While the share of Americans who can trace their roots to immigrants who came directly from Europe has been shrinking, “the edges are getting blurrier,” says Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer of the Pew Hispanic Center.

Read the full article A Nation of None and All of the Above on the New York Times' Web site.

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