The Rise of Mixed Parentage: A Sociological and Demographic Phenomenon to Be Reckoned With

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-12-01 00:35Z by Steven

The Rise of Mixed Parentage: A Sociological and Demographic Phenomenon to Be Reckoned With

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume: 677, Issue: 1, What Census Data Miss about American Diversity, (May 2018)
Pages 26-38
DOI: 10.1177/0002716218757656

Richard Alba, Distinguished Professor of Sociology
City University of New York

Brenden Beck, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology
University of Florida

Duygu Basaran Sahin
City University of New York


Ethno-racially mixed parentage is rising in frequency, creating a strong challenge to both census classification schemes and, indeed, to common conceptions of ethnicity and race. Majority (white) and minority (nonwhite or Hispanic) parentage predominates among individuals with mixed-family backgrounds. Yet in public presentations of census data and population projections, individuals with mixed backgrounds are generally classified as nonwhite. We analyze 2013 American Community Survey data and summarize the results of important studies to argue that individuals from mixed majority-minority backgrounds resemble whites more than they do minorities in terms of some key social characteristics and experiences, such as where they grow up and their social affiliations as adults. Those with a black parent are an important exception. An implication of this analysis is that census classification practices for mixed individuals risk distorting conceptions of the current population, especially its youthful portion, and promoting misunderstandings of ethno-racial change.

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