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The Great Demographic Illusion

Majority, Minority, and the Expanding American Mainstream

Richard Alba

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Pädagogik


Why the number of young Americans from mixed families is surging and what this means for the country’s future

Americans are under the spell of a distorted and polarizing story about their country’s future—the majority-minority narrative—which contends that inevitable demographic changes will create a society with a majority made up of minorities for the first time in the United States’s history. The Great Demographic Illusion reveals that this narrative obscures a more transformative development: the rising numbers of young Americans from ethno-racially mixed families, consisting of one white and one nonwhite parent. Examining the unprecedented significance of mixed parentage in the twenty-first-century United States, Richard Alba looks at how young Americans with this background will play pivotal roles in the country’s demographic future.

Assembling a vast body of evidence, Alba explores where individuals of mixed parentage fit in American society. Most participate in and reshape the mainstream, as seen in their high levels of integration into social milieus that were previously white dominated. Yet, racism is evident in the very different experiences of individuals with black-white heritage. Alba’s portrait squares in key ways with the history of immigrant-group assimilation, and indicates that, once again, mainstream American society is expanding and becoming more inclusive.

Nevertheless, there are also major limitations to mainstream expansion today, especially in its more modest magnitude and selective nature, which hinder the participation of black Americans and some other people of color. Alba calls for social policies to further open up the mainstream by correcting the restrictions imposed by intensifying economic inequality, shape-shifting racism, and the impaired legal status of many immigrant families.

Countering rigid demographic beliefs and predictions, The Great Demographic Illusion offers a new way of understanding American society and its coming transformation.

Weitere Titel von diesem Autor



George Orwell, Population projection, Jews, Economics, Italian Americans, Mexicans, Society, United States Census Bureau, World War II, Finding, Parent, Population ageing, Culture of the United States, Employment, Workforce, White people, Ethnic origin, High school diploma, Racial segregation, Affirmative action, Critical race theory, Social status, American Community Survey, Birth certificate, Census, Marital status, Society of the United States, Slavery, African Americans, Household, Eugenics, Indigenous peoples, White nationalism, Race (human categorization), Social class, Criticism, Economic inequality, Credential, Exclusion, IPUMS, Economic mobility, White supremacy, Demographic transition, Percentage, Wealth, Headline, Russell Sage Foundation, Sociology, Ethnic group, Citizenship of the United States, Americans, Social mobility, Hispanic, Survey methodology, Immigration, Social science, Color line (civil rights issue), Social psychology, Racial hierarchy, Social reality, Current population survey (US), Institutional racism, Latin America, Dowell Myers, Oppression, Identity (social science), Demography, Income, Native Americans in the United States, Competition, Family income, Narrative, White Americans, Illegal immigration, Marriage, Multiculturalism, Non-Hispanic whites, Socioeconomic status, Multiracial, Prejudice, Prevalence, Institution, Grandparent, Minority group, Working class, Anglo, Social inequality, Disadvantage, Italians, Kinship, Racism, Mexican Americans, Nationality, Person of color, Economic growth, Educational attainment, Black people, Political science, The New York Times, Social integration