In This Review

The Great Demographic Illusion: Majority, Minority, and the Expanding American Mainstream
The Great Demographic Illusion: Majority, Minority, and the Expanding American Mainstream
By Richard Alba
336 pp, Princeton University Press , 2020
Purchase

The United States is widely projected to become a “majority-minority” country within the next few decades, when nonwhite people will outnumber white people. But Alba, a noted demographer and social scientist, argues that this projection is misleading. More than ten percent of babies born in the United States now are of mixed parentage, far more than Asian-only children and not many fewer than babies of two Black parents. Data sources are beginning to count people of mixed origins in their own grouping—rather than allotting them to one or another ethnic or racial category—making visible the reality of current trends. The surge in mixed families presages a more fluid picture than the vision of a minority-white country divided by rigid racial categories with competing cultures and interests. Alba envisions a trajectory of assimilation in the twenty-first century in which mainstream culture expands, growing increasingly diverse. Alba writes with an admirable absence of jargon. His data-driven but fully accessible work advances an original and important idea that, if correct, will have major societal consequences.