American Sociological Association

What Majority-minority Society? A Critical Analysis of the Census Bureau’s Projections of America’s Demographic Future

On the basis of demographic projections by the U.S. Census Bureau, many Americans believe that their society will transition soon to a majority-minority one. The author analyzes the latest version of the projections and finds that the pivotal group is made up of individuals who come from mixed minority-white family backgrounds. It is projected to grow very rapidly in coming decades, and Census Bureau classification practices mean that most of its members are counted as minority. Without this classification, however, the emergence of a majority-minority society by 2060 is far from certain. Moreover, the evidence we possess about the characteristics, social affiliations, and identities of mixed individuals contradicts this Census Bureau practice, except for partly black individuals, who suffer from high levels of racism. Taking into account the ambiguous social locations of most mixed minority-white persons, the author suggests that, even should a majority-minority society appear, it will not look like we presently imagine it.


Richard Alba