The Declining Multiple Race Population of the United States: The American Community Survey, 2000 to 2005

Ren Farley, University of Michigan

The biggest change in the federal measurement of race occurred in 2000. The Office of Management and Budget ruled that the Census must allow persons to identify simultaneously with more than one of five major races: white, black, American Indian, Asian or Hawaiian. In 2000, one American in 40 identified with two or more races: 2.5 percent. Demographers predicted the multiple-race population would grow rapidly because of increasing racial diversity, more interracial marriage and the prominence of multiple-race persons. The American Community Survey annually asks the racial questions used in 2000. Surprisingly, there has been a consistent decline in multiple race identification. In 2005, one American in 53 identified with multiple races: 1.9 percent. This paper describes changes in racial identification and emphasizes that the driving force behind changes in the reporting of race is the sharp increase in the percentage of Hispanics who use a Spanish term for their race.

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Presented in Session 24: Challenges of Multiracial Measurement