The Full Wiki

Race and ethnicity in the United States: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The United States is a diverse country racially and ethnically.[1] Six main races are recognized officially: White, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and people of Two or more races; a race called "Some other race" is also used in the census and other surveys, but is not official.[2][3][4] Americans are also classified as "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino", which identifies Hispanic and Latino Americans as a racially diverse ethnicity that composes the largest minority group in the nation.[5][2][3]

White Americans (non-Hispanic/Latino and Hispanic/Latino) are the racial majority, with an 80% share of the U.S. population, per official estimates from the Population Estimates Program (PEP),[4] or 75% per the American Community Survey (ACS).[6] Hispanic and Latino Americans compose 15% of the population.[5] Black Americans are the largest racial minority, composing nearly 13% of the population.[4][6] The White, not-Hispanic or Latino population comprises 66% of the nation's total.[5]

The U.S. races and ethnic groups are concentrated regionally in variant ways. White Americans are the majority in every region,[4] and reach their highest share of the population in the Midwestern United States: 85% per the PEP,[4] or 83% per the ACS.[6] 79% of the Midwest is non-Hispanic White, the highest ratio of any region.[5] However, 35% of White Americans (whether all White Americans or non-Hispanic/Latino only) live in the The South, the most of any region.[4][5] The South is also where Blacks and African Americans are most prevalent, as it is home to 55% of the community.[4] A plurality or majority of each of the remaining groups resides in the West: The region is home to 42% of Hispanic and Latino Americans, 46% of Asian Americans, 48% of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 68% of Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, 37% of the "Two or more races" population (Multiracial Americans), and 46% of people of "Some other race".[4][7]


Racial and Ethnic categories

In the 2000 Census and subsequent United States Census Bureau surveys, Americans self-described as belonging to these racial groups:[3]

Ethnicity: Hispanic and Latino Americans

The question on Hispanic or Latino origin is separate from the question on race.[3][10] Hispanic and Latino Americans have origins in the Hispanophone countries of Latin America and Spain. Self-identifying as Hispanic or Latino and not Hispanic or Latino is neither explicitly allowed nor explicitly prohibited.[2] On the Race question, Hispanic and Latino Americans choose from among the same categories as all Americans, and are included in the numbers reported for those races: no separate racial category exists for Hispanic and Latino Americans, as they do not make up a separate race.[11] Thus each racial category contains Non-Hispanic or Latino and Hispanic or Latino Americans. For example: the White race category contains Non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanic Whites (see White Hispanic and Latino Americans); the Black or African American category contains Non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanic Blacks (see Black Hispanic and Latino Americans); and likewise for all the other categories. See the section on Hispanic and Latino Americans in this article.

Racial makeup of the U.S. population

Most common ancestries in each U.S. county, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
Most common ancestries in each U.S. state, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.      German      African American      Mexican      Italian      American      English      Irish      Japanese      Puerto Rican
Top ancestries in 2000.

White Americans

The majority of the 300 million people currently living in the United States consists of White Americans, who trace their ancestry to the original peoples of Europe. Fifty-three percent of white Americans are of colonial ancestry, and 47 percent are the descendants of ancestors who came to America after 1790. Approximately 23 percent of white Americans are of English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh descent. Eighty-six percent of U.S. whites are of Northwestern European ancestry, and 14 percent are of Southern and Eastern European extraction.

White Americans are the majority in forty-nine of the fifty states, with Hawaii as the exception. The District of Columbia, which is not a state, also has a non-white majority.[12] Non-Hispanic Whites, however, are the majority in forty-six states, with Hawaii, New Mexico, California, and Texas, as well as the District of Columbia, as the exceptions.[13] The latter five have "minority majorities", i.e. minority groups are a majority of their populations.

The non-Hispanic White percentage (68 in 2006)[14] tends to decrease every year, and this sub-group is expected to become a plurality of the overall US population after the year 2050. However, White Americans overall (non-Hispanic Whites together with White Hispanics) will remain the majority, at 73.1% (or 303 million out of 420 million) in 2050, from 80% in 2006 (per the Population Estimates Program, not the ACS; it is 76% in the ACS, as previously noted).[15][16]

Even though a high proportion of the population has two or more ancestries, only slightly more than one ancestry was stated per person. This means that the percentages listed are significantly dependent on subjective perception of which of several ancestry lines is relevant.

A large number of individuals (7.2% of the U.S. population) listed their ancestry as American on the 2000 census (see American ethnicity). According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of people in the U.S. who reported American and no other ancestry increased from 12.4 million in 1990 to 20.2 million in 2000. This increase represents the largest numerical growth of any ethnic group in the United States during the 1990s.

The descendants of Dutch and Hanoverian settlers, whose countries were non-simultaneously in personal union with the British monarchy, often identify with the successor countries today, namely Netherlands and Germany. This helps colonial diasporas fit in more with current nations. (See British American).

The largest Central European ancestry was Polish (both Catholic Poles and Ashkenazi Jews), and the largest Eastern European ancestry was Russian (includes a recent influx of Ashkenazi Jews). There were other significant ancestries from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, especially Italy, as well as from French Canada. Most who registered as French American are descended from colonists of Catholic New France — exiled Huguenots quickly assimilated into the relevant British population of the Thirteen Colonies and were immediately seen and self-regarded as subjects of the Crown under the old Plantagenet claim.

Other ethnic European origins included are Italian (See Italian American), Dutch/Flemish, Lithuanian, Latvian, former Yugoslavs, Greek, Hungarian, Portuguese, Czech, Slovak, Australian, and New Zealander. A comparatively small fraction of recent immigrants are non-Hispanic whites, but the largest numbers come from Canada, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. In addition to direct Spanish ancestry, including the Isleños of Louisiana and the Hispanos of the Southwest, most White Hispanics are of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban ancestry.[17]

According to the 2006 ACS, there are 1.5 million Arab Americans, accounting for 0.5% of the American population.[18] The largest subgroup was by far the Lebanese Americans, with 481,675, and 3 million descendants, nearly a third of the Arab American population. Most Lebanese descend from immigrants of the late 18th century through the early 19th century.[citation needed] Over 1/4 of all Arab Americans claimed two ancestries, having not only Arab ancestry but also non-Arab. Among them, 14.7% reported Irish, 13.6% reported Italian, and 13.5% reported German ancestry in the 2000 census. Assyrians were also listed in the US census under Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac.

Black Americans

About 13.5% of the American people are Black or African American,[6] most of whom are primarily descendants of Africans who lived through the Slavery era in the U.S. between 1619 and the 1860s and were emancipated during the American Civil War. Black Americans are the largest racial minority as opposed to Hispanics and Latinos, who are the largest "ethnic" minority. The historical national origin of the majority of Black Americans is untraceable, as most African nations were named centuries after they arrived in the United States; the continent of Africa serves as an indicator of geographic origin and a descriptive term. Starting in the 1970s, the black population has been bolstered by immigration from the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Barbados and the Dominican Republic, as well as from South America, primarily from Guyana, Brazil, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela. More recently, starting in the 1990s, there has been an influx of African immigrants to the United States, due to the instability in political and economic opportunities in various nations in Africa.

Historically, most African Americans lived in the Southeast and South Central states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Since World War I there occurred the Great Migration of rural black Americans to the industrial Northeast, urban Midwest and, in a smaller wave, to the West Coast that lasted until 1960. However, since the 1980s, this migration from the South has reversed, with millions of African Americans, many well-educated, moving to growing metropolitan areas in that region. Today, most African Americans (56%) live in the Southern US[6] and in urban areas, but are increasingly moving to the suburbs. Historically, any person with any sub-Saharan African ancestry, even if they were mostly white, were designated and classified as "black", according to the "one drop theory," by which any Black African ancestry made the person "black" in legal sense. Today, the US census in law and practice does not declare any person to belong in any race or ethnicity without the prior consent of that person.

Asian Americans

A third significant minority is the Asian American population, comprising 13.1 million in 2006, or 4.4% of the U.S. population.[6] California is home to 4.5 million Asian Americans, whereas 512,000 live in Hawaii, where they compose the plurality at 40% of the islands' people.[19] Asian Americans live across the country, and are also found in large numbers in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Houston, and other urban centers. It is by no means a monolithic group. The largest groups are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from the Philippines, China, India, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea and Japan. While the Asian American population is generally a fairly recent addition to the nation's ethnic mix, relatively large waves of Chinese, Filipino and Japanese immigration happened in the mid to late 1800s.

Two or more races

Multiracial Americans numbered 6.1 million in 2006, or 2.0% of the population.[6][20] They can be any combination of races (White, Black or African American, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, "Some other race") and ethnicities. The U.S. has a growing multiracial identity movement. Miscegenation or interracial marriage, most notably between whites and blacks, was deemed immoral and illegal in most states in early centuries. Demographers state that the American people are mostly multi-ethnic descendants of various immigrant nationalities culturally distinct until assimilation and integration took place in the mid 20th century.

Native Americans and Alaska Natives

Indigenous peoples of the Americas, such as American Indians and Inuit, made up 0.8% of the population in 2006, numbering 2.4 million.[6] An additional 1.9 million declared part-Native American or American Indian ancestry.[21] The legal and official designation of who is Native American by descent aroused controversy by demographers, tribal nations and government officials for many decades. The blood quantum laws are complex and contradictory in admittance of new tribal members, or for census takers to accept any respondent's claims without official documents from the US Bureau of Indian Affairs. Genetic scientists estimated that over 15 million other Americans may be one quarter or less of American Indian descent.

Once thought to face extinction in race or culture, there has been a remarkable revival of Native American identity and tribal sovereignty in the 20th century. The Cherokee are at 800,000 full or part-blood degrees. 70,000 Cherokee live in Oklahoma in the Cherokee Nation, and 15,000 in North Carolina on remnants of their ancestral homelands. The second largest tribal group is the Navajo, who call themselves "Diné" and live on a 16-million acre (65,000 km²) Indian reservation covering northeast Arizona, northwest New Mexico and southeast Utah. It is home to half of the 450,000 Navajo Nation members. The third largest group are the Lakota (Sioux) Nation located in the states of Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming; and North and South Dakota.

Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders

Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 426,194 in 2006, or 0.14% of the population.[6] Additionally, nearly as many report partial Native Hawaiian ancestry, for a total of 813,474 people of full or part Native Hawaiian ancestry.[22] Despite these numbers, which show that just more than half are "full-blooded", most Native Hawaiians on the island chain of Hawaii are said to be highly mixed with Asian, European and other ancestries. Only 1 out of 50 Native Hawaiians can be legally defined as "full blood" and some demographers believe that by the year 2025, the last full-blooded Native Hawaiian will die off, leaving a culturally distinct, but racially-mixed population. However, there is more individual self-designation of what is Native Hawaiian than before the US annexed the islands in 1898. Native Hawaiians are receiving ancestral land reparations. Throughout Hawaii, the preservation and universal adaptation of Native Hawaiian customs, Hawaiian language, cultural schools solely for legally Native Hawaiian students, and historical awareness has gained momentum for Native Hawaiians.

Some other race

In the 2000 census, this non-standard category[3] was intended to capture responses such as Mestizo and Mulatto,[8] two multiracial groups to which many Hispanics and Latinos belong. However, responses that are not on the Census choice boxes such as "Cornish", "Catalan", "Romany", "Jewish", "Moroccan", "Belizean", "Brazilian", "South African" and "Southerner/Southern American", were also given in this category. In 2006, 6.4% of the total U.S. population were estimated to be "Some other race",[6] with 97% of them being Hispanic or Latino.[23]

Due to this category's non-standard status, statistics from government agencies other than the Census Bureau (for example: the Center for Disease Control's data on vital statistics, or the FBI's crime statistics), but also the Bureau's own official Population Estimates, omit the "Some other race" category and include the people in this group in the white population, thus including the vast majority (about 90%) of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the white population. For an example of this, see The World Factbook, published by the Central Intelligence Agency.[24]

Hispanic and Latino Americans

For the U.S. Census, the terms Hispanic and Latino signify a person with ethnic or ancestral ties to Hispanic Latin America. In contrast, the concept of race is completely independent of ethnicity. Whereas ethnicity accounts for a person’s geographic origin, the U.S. Census uses race as a “socio-political construct” to describe each person.[25] The US Census Bureau asks each resident to report the “race or races with which they most closely identify.”[26]

Americans of Hispanic origin composed 14.8% of the population (44 million) in 2006 and was the largest ethinic minority. Since the Hispanic ethnicity comprises many different races, however, the largest racial minority was African-Americans (12% of the population). The leading country-of-origin for Hispanic Americans was Mexico (28.3 million), followed by Puerto Rico (3.9 million) and Cuba (1.5 million).[27].

The racial composition of Hispanic and Latino Americans is dominated by people who self-identify as white (52.3%) and as coming from "some other race" (41.2%). This catch-all category consolidates the many indigenous races of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The "some other race" respondents usually identify with their national origin ("Mexican", "Salvadoran", "Colombian" and 20 other nationalities). The remaining Hispanics are composed of Black or African-Americans (1.4%), American Indian and Alaska Natives (0.8%), Asians (0.4%),and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (0.1%).[23] In the Year 2000 Census, the racial category of "some other race" category overlapped by 97% with the Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. This suggests that most of those people are from indigenous races in Hispanic Latin America.[28]

The spectacular growth of the Hispanic population through immigration and higher birth rates are noted as a partial factor for the US’ population gains in the last quarter-century. The Bureau of the Census projects that by 2050 one-quarter of the population will be Hispanic.[15][29] Bureau figures show the U.S. population grew by 2.8 million between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005.[30] Hispanics accounted for 1.3 million of that increase.[31]

Historical trends

1790 U.S. Ancestry
Based on Evaluated census figures[32]
2000 U.S. Ancestry[32]
Ancestry group Number
(1790 estimate)
 % of
Ancestry group Number
(2000 count)
 % of
English 1,900,000 47.5 German 42,885,162 15.2
African 750,000 19.0 African 36,419,434 12.9
Scotch-Irish 320,000 8.0 Irish 30,594,130 10.9
German 280,000 7.0 English 24,515,138 8.7
Irish 200,000 5.0 Mexican 20,640,711 7.3
Scottish 160,000 4.0 Italian 15,723,555 5.6
Welsh 120,000 3.0 French 10,846,018 3.9
Dutch 100,000 2.5 Hispanic 10,017,244 3.6
French 80,000 2.0 Polish 8,977,444 3.2
Native American 50,000 1.0 Scottish 4,890,581 1.7
Spanish 20,000 0.5 Dutch 4,542,494 1.6
Swedish or other 20,000 0.5 Norwegian 4,477,725 1.6
British Isles (Total) 2,700,000 67.5 Scotch-Irish 4,319,232 1.5
Total 3,929,326[33] 100 Native American 4,119,301 1.5
Swedish 3,998,310 1.4

Projections of future developments

Population projections by a Census Bureau report (2008)[34]
2008 2050
Non-Hispanic whites 68% 46%
Hispanic (of any race) 15 % 30%
Non-Hispanic blacks 12% 15%
Asian American 5% 9%

Immigration to the United States is what has produced its diverse population of today, and will continue to change its ethnic and racial makeup. A 2008 report from the Census Bureau projects that by 2042, non-Hispanic whites will no longer make up the majority of the population. This is a revision of earlier projections which projected this demographic change to take place in 2050.

Today, non-Hispanic whites make up about 68% of the population. This is expected to fall to 46% in 2050. The report foresees the Hispanic population rising from 15% today to 30% by 2050. Today African Americans make up 12% of the population, in 2050 they are projected to comprise 15% of the population. Asian Americans make up 5% of the population today and they are expected to make up 9% in 2050. The U.S. has nearly 305 million people today.

The population is projected to reach 400 million by 2039 and 439 million in 2050.[35] (A better citation would be preferred here. You can help Wikipedia by providing one.)

See also


  1. ^ "OUR DIVERSE POPULATION: Race and Hispanic Origin, 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  2. ^ a b c "Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity". Office of Management and Budget. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Grieco, Elizabeth M; Rachel C. Cassidy. "Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Detailed Tables - American FactFinder; T3-2008. Race [7]". 2008 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Detailed Tables - American FactFinder; T4-2008. Hispanic or Latino By Race [15]". 2008 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "B02001. RACE - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION". 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  7. ^ "B03002. HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY RACE - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION [by region]". 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  8. ^ a b "Racial and Ethnic Classifications Used in Census 2000 and Beyond". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-11-02. 
  9. ^ "Persons reporting some other race, percent, 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  10. ^ "Short Form Questionnaire" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  11. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau Guidance on the Presentation and Comparison of Race and Hispanic Origin Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-04-06. "Race and Hispanic origin are two separate concepts in the federal statistical system. People who are Hispanic may be of any race. People in each race group may be either Hispanic or Not Hispanic. Each person has two attributes, their race (or races) and whether or not they are Hispanic." 
  12. ^ "B02001. RACE - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION [states]". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  13. ^ "Texas Becomes Nation’s Newest "Majority-Minority" State, Census Bureau Announces". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  14. ^ "T4-2006. Hispanic or Latino By Race [15]". 2006 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  15. ^ a b "UNITED STATES POPULATION PROJECTIONS BY RACE AND HISPANIC ORIGIN: 2000 TO 2050" (Excel). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  16. ^ "T3-2006. Race [7]". 2006 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  17. ^ Tafoya, Sonya (2004). "Shades of Belonging" (PDF). Pew Hispanic Center. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  18. ^ "B04003. TOTAL ANCESTRY REPORTED". 2006 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  19. ^ "B02001. RACE - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION [states]". 2006 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  20. ^ Jones, Nicholas A.; Amy Symens Smith. "The Two or More Races Population: 2000. Census 2000 Brief" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  21. ^ "B02010. AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE ALONE OR IN COMBINATION WITH ONE OR MORE OTHER RACES". 2006 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  22. ^ "B02012. NATIVE HAWAIIAN AND OTHER PACIFIC ISLANDER ALONE OR IN COMBINATION WITH ONE OR MORE OTHER RACES". 2006 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  23. ^ a b "B03002. HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY RACE - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION". 2006 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  24. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook -- United States". CIA. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Rodriguez, Clara E. (2000). Changing Race: Latinos, the Census, and the History of Ethnicity in the United States. New York: New York University Press. 
  29. ^ "US Census Press Releases". United States Census Bureau. 2004-03-18. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  30. ^ Garreau, Joel (October 2006). "300 Million and Counting". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  31. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau: Nation’s Population One-Third Minority". United States Census Bureau. 2006-05-10. Retrieved 2005-05-05. 
  32. ^ a b The Source: Gen
  33. ^ U.S 1790 Census
  34. ^ US Census Press Release
  35. ^ U.S. to Grow Grayer, More Diverse

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address