The Evolution of American Diversity: Evidence from the Last Quarter Century

Anthony D. Perez, University of Washington
Charles Hirschman, University of Washington

The origins of American diversity and the demographic processes that gave rise to it are often obscured by contentious and contradictory narratives in popular discourse and Academia. Demographic models limit accounts of population growth to changes in natural increase and migration. Racial groups are usually treated as discrete populations, and identity shifts are excluded from demographic balancing equations. This approach is at odds with popular conceptions of a “melting pot” America, the documented and forgotten histories of mixed unions, and the explosive, if uneven growth of mixed ancestry populations. This paper espouses a broader view of population diversity that treats racial and ethnic fluidity as substantive quantities of interest. Combining data from three recent censuses and the 2005 ACS, we examine the contribution of identity change to the composition of the American population and provide accounts for the stability and uncertainty of race and ethnic reporting among major U.S. sub-groups.

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Presented in Poster Session 2