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America's diversity explosion, in 3 charts

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In Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America, demographer William Frey offers an illustrated overview of the way unprecedented racial changes are transforming the United States.

One of its most striking themes: the rapid increase in numbers of Hispanics, Asians, and people who identify with two of more races — groups Frey has dubbed "new minorities" because of an influx, and likely swift expansion, of immigrants settling in the US.

Hand in hand with this is the sharply diminished growth of the white population, which is expected to decrease by 6 percent between 2010 and 2050, as every other racial/ethnic group sees increases.

Reprinted with permission from Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America by William H. Frey. (Brookings Press, 2014)

When it comes to the proportion of the country made up of people who identify as white compared with the proportion of people who don't, the change will be dramatic. Compare the orange and gray bars on the chart below for the year 1970 with the ones that represent 2050 projections.

Reprinted with permission from Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America by William H. Frey. (Brookings Press, 2014)

The predicted shifts are striking. What are we supposed to make of them? "Certainly in the past, the specter of a minority white nation instilled fear among some Americans, and to some extent it continues to do so today — fear of change, fear of losing privileged status, or fear of unwanted groups in their communities," Frey writes. But the demographer says there's no real basis for this, arguing, "Rather than be feared, America's new diversity — poised to reinvigorate the country at a time when other developed nations are facing advanced aging and population loss — can be celebrated."

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