Study Finds U.S. Multiracial Population is 3X What Census Counted

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 15, 2015

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Census Bureau has dramatically underestimated the number of multiracial people in this country. While the bureau reports that 2.1 percent of adults are more than one race, the study, “Multiracial in America,” puts that number at 6.9 percent. The estimate includes people who claim more than one race, as well as those who report that at least one of their parents is a different race and those who have a grandparent of a different race. With multiracial babies accounting for a tenth of all births in 2013 and the current increase in interracial marriage, experts expect rapid growth in this group.

Part of the discrepancy may be because a full 61 percent of the adults with mixed racial backgrounds don’t actually consider themselves to be “multiracial.” And about 30 percent of them say that they have described their race in various ways at different points in their lives. The study also revealed that although Hispanic origin is considered an ethnicity, about two-thirds of Latinos think of it as part of their race.

The study also found that self-identity varies from group to group. When it comes to people with a black background, they most often identify with the black community. Meanwhile, biracial Asian and white adults tend to feel more closely connected to whites. The largest biracial group (50 percent) to emerge from the study is people who identify as both white and Native American, though the study found that only 22 percent of them feel connected to Native Americans.

White and American Indian Biracial Adults Are the Largest Multiracial Group

When it comes to discrimination and racism, multiracial folks are not exempt. More than half (55 percent) have been subjected to racial slurs. For biracial adults who count black as part of their background, 57 percent have received poor service based on their race—the same percentage as those who identify solely as black. And 43 percent of multiracial adults who are perceived as black report being unfairly stopped by the police, while 52 percent have been treated unfairly by an employer. Mixed-race people with Asian backgrounds report discrimination at the same rate as single-race Asians. Nevertheless, nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of multiracial people say they are proud of their mixed-race background, and 59 percent say it has made them more open to other cultures. 

Many Multiracial Adults Have Experienced Racial Discrimination