The Census Bureau's newly released population projections predict that non-Hispanic, white Americans will cease to compose a majority of the population in 2043, two years after the total population exceeds 400 million people.
This highly symbolic shift to a "majority-minority" nation is due in large part to two factors: While the Hispanic population is expect to grow by 75 million people in the next 48 years, the white, non-Hispanic population will decrease—not just as a percentage of the nation, but in total numbers. According to the Census predictions, there will be 19 million fewer people in this category in 2060 than there are today, based on the age of the population and projected rates of reproduction.
But this demographic view of the country five decades from now can be misleading due to the way race and ethnicity are reported to the Census. Because Hispanic origin is reported independently of one's race, there will be an increasingly large number of people who fall into multiple categories. When one looks at predictions for the white and black population including those who count themselves as Hispanic or biracial, the picture looks very different:
White population, alone and in combination
Black population, alone and in combination
All of these data assume that the Census definition of race and ethnicity, and the cultural definition of race and ethnicity, remain unchanged through 2060.
"We're not making assumptions about how people might report their race in the future," says Census demographer Jennifer M. Ortman, who noted that the Census has changed the way it defines race and ethnicity in each decennial survey. These projections also do not account for any change in the incidence of babies born to parents of different races, something that is impossible to predict with any accuracy.
In 2056, the population is predicted to reach another milestone when the number of Americans over 65 outnumbers those under 18.