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Report: US population is increasingly multiracial

Growth rate of multiracial families is three times as fast as rest of population, Pew study says

The current growth rate of biracial families is three times faster than that of the rest of the population, according to a Pew study published Thursday.

The research center’s "Multiracial in America" report found that 6.9 percent of the population in the United States is of mixed race. That's a big jump from the past and points to a population that is expected to grow, said Kim Parker, Pew's director of social trends research. In 1970, among babies living with two parents, only 1 percent had parents who were different races from each other. By 2013, that figure had risen to 10 percent.

"From 2000-2010 that multiracial population grew three times as fast as the overall population," Parker said. "And when we look at the number of babies being born that are mixed race and the rise in interracial marriage, we can see that not only is it continuing to grow but the growth could accelerate in the future."

The majority of multiracial individuals — about 60 percent — say they are proud of their ancestry, and feel their background has made them more attuned to other cultures, according to the report. Biracial white-Asian adults were the most likely to say they were multiracial and to consider themselves multiracial.

A majority of people also reported to have been subjected to racial slurs or felt annoyed by people’s assumptions about their mixed-race background.

The largest group of multiracial adults is biracial white and Native American, the report said, with 50 percent of the multiracial adults claiming that dual ancestry. But they may someday be eclipsed by other multiracial Americans, with the majority of mixed-race babies born in 2013 being either biracial white and black or biracial white and Asian, according to the report.

Biracial white and Native American is the only multiracial group that leans toward the GOP, with the Republican Party holding a 53-42 percent advantage over the Democrats, the report said. All of the other mixed-race groups — white-Asian, black-white, black-Native American, and black-white-Native American — favored the Democrats by large numbers.

Black and Native American adults make up 12 percent of the multiracial population, while those with a white and black background make up 11 percent.

For many multiracial adults, their experiences are similar to those who identify themselves as single races. For example, 40 percent of mixed-race adults with one black parent said they have been unfairly stopped by the police because of their racial background. However, only 6 percent of biracial white and Asian adults and 15 percent of white and Native American adults said they have had this experience.

Racial identity can be fluid for some people and fixed for others, Parker said. Thirty percent of the multiracial adults said they had described themselves as something other than multiracial earlier in their lives, she said.

"Being multiracial is not just a sum of the races in your family tree," she said. "It's also part of experiences and upbringing and it also can be fluid and change over the life course or when an individual is in a certain set of circumstances."

Like the rest of U.S. demographics, the composition of the mixed-race Americans is changing, the report noted. Thirty-six percent of mixed race babies born in 2012 were biracial white and black and 24 percent were biracial white and Asia. Only 12 percent were white and Native American, Parker said.

"That doesn't necessarily dictate how they will identify when they grow up, but it's sort of an indicator of maybe a shifting composition."

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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