The number of Americans who consider themselves multiracial has grown faster than any other racial group nationwide, new Census Bureau data reveal.
The change is a sign of slow but momentous shifts in the way Americans think about race.
Mixed-race or multiracial people are still just a small slice of the American public, but their numbers jumped 6.6% between 2010 and 2012—four times as fast as the national population, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Experts say their ranks will only continue to swell.
Join us at 9 a.m. when we talk about what the data say about how race is reported and viewed in America with Times reporter Emily Alpert.
Researchers give two reasons for the rise: More people are marrying across racial lines than in decades past, bringing about more multiracial children. Roughly 15% of new marriages were interracial in 2010, compared with 6.7% in 1980, the Pew Research Center found last year.
Census estimates show children and teens were nearly three times as likely as adults to be multiracial, with 4.8% of people 18 or younger being identified as two or more races last year.
On top of that, experts say people who were long prodded to think of themselves as only "black" or "white" or "Asian" are becoming more comfortable choosing more than one race.
Mingling of races "has been with us forever in this country, and it has been erased and denied," said G. Reginald Daniel, professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara. Today, "that has begun to unravel. That is what you're seeing with these figures."