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Press Release · August 13, 2004

Multiracial Californians: A Multifaceted Story

Overall, Multiracial Residents Younger, Less Educated, Poorer; But Picture Differs for Different Racial Combinations

SAN FRANCISCO, California, August 13, 2004 — Multiracial Californians make up 5 percent of the state’s total population – twice the percentage as in the rest of the nation. And this growing population is more likely to be younger, less educated, and living in poverty than single-race residents, according to a study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

On average, multiracial residents are 10 years younger than single-race Californians (24 years versus 34 years). The most striking age difference is between black/white residents, with a median age of 12 years, and single-race blacks and whites, who each have a median age of over 30 years. Multiracial Californians are also less likely than single-race residents to have a bachelor’s degree (21% versus 27%) and more likely to be living below the poverty line (17% versus 14%).

Beneath these broad-stroke statistics, however, there is a far more complex picture. California’s multiracial population includes many different racial combinations with very different characteristics that create wide differences in education, economic well-being, and other measures. For example, just 12 percent of Asian/whites have less than a high school education, compared to 19 percent of black/whites and 52 percent of Hispanic SOR/whites. Poverty rates for Asian/whites are half what they are for Hispanic SOR/whites (8% versus 22%). Note: SOR stands for “some other race,” one of the U.S. Census Bureau’s six major categories of race.

One striking finding of the study, California’s Multiracial Population, is that multiracial Californians fall somewhere between their single-race counterparts on some measures. For example, the poverty rate for black/white Californians (16%) is about halfway between the relatively low white poverty rate (8%) and the relatively high black rate (22%).

“The fact is we find no overarching identity that characterizes California’s multiracial population. Their education, income, and other outcomes vary tremendously depending on the specific racial combination,” says PPIC research fellow Hans Johnson, who coauthored the study with PPIC research fellow Laura Hill, and Sonya Tafoya, a research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center. “And from a political perspective, at this time, this group doesn’t seem to represent any one voice or point of view.”

The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett.