Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Obama Effect on Racial Identification

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of people who identified themselves as black and white more than doubled, climbing from 785,000 to 1.8 million, a 134 percent increase. This combination alone accounted for nearly half the increase in the nation's multiracial population during the decade.

In 2000, the black/white combination accounted for only 11 percent of the total multiracial population. This group was greatly outnumbered by white/other (many "others" were Hispanics who were unaware that Hispanic is an ethnicity rather than a race), white/Asian, and white/American Indian.

In 2010, the black/white mix surged ahead of all the others, accounting for 20 percent of the total multiracial population. Why? Most likely, it is the Obama Effect. The nation's first multiracial president has boosted the popularity of asserting a multiracial identity, particularly the black/white combination. It is also likely that many of those doing the asserting are parents of children under age 18. As of 2009, the median age of the multiracial population was just 20, well below the median age of 37 for all Americans. We do not yet know the age distribution of the multiracial in 2010, but it is likely to be much more youthful than the general population. What accounts for this? Parents. When answering the census, parents supply the information for children under age 18, including racial identification. Many parents identify their children as multiracial (and increasingly so), but when those children become adults they may choose to adopt a single-race identification. Unless, that is, the Obama Effect permanently changes racial identification in the United States.

Source: Bureau of the Census, Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin 2010 and Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin 2000

No comments: