The Changing Racial Demographics Around the World

changing racial demographics

As more people around the world are embracing our multiraciality, I decided to take a look at whether this embracing en masse had any effect on changing racial demographics. My thinking was that not only do the offspring of interracial marriages feel more empowered than ever to claim each of their racial and ethnic identities (my generation did not), more monoracial people are feeling empowered to, at minimum, be curious about other races they might previously have been either disinterested in or advised by family and friends to steer clear of.

So I went on a fact finding mission to see if a few countries’ census reports reflect these changing racial demographics.

Now keep in mind that not all countries’ census reports are accurate. For example, if I pick a random country, say Cuba, The CIA World Facebook reports that Cuba’s demographics are as follows:

  • 61.1 percent White
  • 26.6 percent Mestizo (multiracial / mixed race)
  • 9.3 percent Black

Puerto Rico’s demographics are almost identical to Cuba’s. In fact, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans (from the Dominican Republic)—that is those who haven’t had kids with people of different races and ethnicities—comprise Black, Taino (indigenous / native) and Spanish blood. However, despite this, very few claim to be Black (even those who look Black and are clearly of African descent). Most claim to be White—yes, even many with their naturally curly hair, brown complexion and full lips and noses.

What this means is that we can only go by what people report, versus what’s really going on and without every person taking a DNA test, all we can do is go based on reporting.

That in Mind, Let’s Look at Changing Racial Demographics in a Few Countries—as Reported By Their Census Data

Changing Racial Demographics in the United States

  • The 2000 census was the first time a category for “two or more races” was included. 2.4 percent identified themselves as belonging to this category, and that number increased to 2.9 percent in the 2010 census.
  • From the 2001 to 2010 census the number of those identifying as Black increased slightly, from 12.3 percent to 12.6 percent. But the number identifying as Hispanic jumped from 12.5 percent to 17.6 percent.
  • Non-Hispanic Whites comprise 61.6 percent of the population as of 2015, down from 83.5 percent in 1970.
  • As of 1970, just three years after the Supreme Court outlawed anti-miscegenation laws nationwide, only 2 percent of U.S. marriages were interracial. By 2005 the number had increased to 7 percent, and then jumped to 12 percent in 2013 (the latter number is 15 percent if ethnicity (Hispanic identity) is included along with race.

Changing Racial Demographics in Great Britain

  • In 1991, Whites comprised 92.1 percent of the population, Asians 3.8 percent, Blacks 1.8 percent and Mixed Race .57 percent.
  • In 2011 Whites were still in the majority at 87.1 percent, but the Black population had increased to 3 percent, Asian to 6.9 percent and Mixed Race to 2 percent, the latter an almost four-fold increase in 20 years.
  • According to the 2011 census, about 10 percent of marriages or live-in relationships were interracial or inter-ethnic. 85 percent of mixed race people and 4 percent of whites were involved in such relationships.
  • By 2020 the category Multiracial / Mixed Race will be Great Britain’s second largest demographic group, after Whites.

Changing Racial Demographics in Canada

  • Between 1996 and 2011, Canada’s minority population increased from 11.2 percent to 19.1 percent.
  • Between 1996 and 2011, the number of Canadians identifying as Black increased from 2 percent to 2.9 percent.
  • From 2001 to 2006, the number of Canadians identifying as Mixed Race / Multiracial jumped from 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent.
  • Interracial marriages in Canada: 1991, 2.6 percent of all marriages; 2001, 3.9 percent; 2011, 4.6 percent.
  • 2 percent of married Black Canadians and 64.9 percent of married Multiracial Canadians are in interracial relationships.

Changing Racial Demographics in Australia

  • Australia doesn’t closely track the populations of people of color, but 3 percent of the population is indigenous (Aborigine).
  • 52 percent of Aboriginal men and 55 percent of Aboriginal women in marriages are wed to non-indigenous Australians.
  • The total number of Australia residents identifying as Multiracial is unknown, since Australia doesn’t ask this question in census surveys.
  • From 1905 to 1969, children born with one Aboriginal and one white parent were routinely removed from their homes, supposedly to protect them from prejudice and abuse. In Australia, these dislocated kids came to be known as the Stolen Generations.

Changing Racial Demographics in Brazil / Brasil

  • In 2010, for the first time, the number of Brazilians identifying as Black or Mixed Race comprised the majority of the population (50.7 percent versus 47.7 percent White).
  • From 2001 to 2010, the number of Brazilians identifying as Mixed Race increased from 38.5 percent to 43.1 percent, while the Black (self-identified) population jumped from 6.2 percent to 7.6 percent. Much of this is believed to reflect a greater willingness on the part of Multiracial people to report as Mixed Race and not as White.
  • In 1980 80 percent of marriages in Brazil were same-race, but that number fell to 70 percent by 2001 and has remained there to the present day.

Changing Racial Demographics in Argentina

  • From 2001 to 2011, the number of Argentinians identifying as Mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian) increased from 3 percent to 8.5 percent. The number of indigenous (Amerindian) people was at 1.5 percent in 2011.
  • Genetic studies reveal that about 30 percent of Argentinians are actually Mestizo.

Changing Racial Demographics in South Africa

  • As of 2011 the Black population of South Africa was at 76.4 percent, and the White population 9.1 percent. Coloured (mixed race) people made up 8.9 percent of the population.
  • The percentage of Black and Coloured people has remained stable since the 1990s, but the percentage of Whites has declined by 25-30 percent during that time.
  • About 5 percent of Coloured people, Asians and Indians living in South Africa are married to someone of another race. Most of these relationships are between Coloured people and Black people (few South African whites are involved in interracial relationships).
  • Until the law against it was repealed in 1985 (six years before apartheid ended), interracial marriage was illegal in South Africa.

Changing Demographics in Colombia

According to the 2005 census, the breakdown of the Colombian population is: 86 percent White or Mestizo (47 percent Mestizo and 39 percent White), 10.6 percent Afro-Colombian and 3.4 percent indigenous/Amerindian.

Genetic studies show the typical Colombian is 65 percent European, 22 percent Amerindian and 13 percent African by descent.

Changing Racial Demographics in Japan

I was underwhelmed and not surprised to learn that Japan doesn’t collect census data. Although we might be quick to assume Japan is made up entirely of Japanese people, we know this isn’t the case. During World War II many American GIs had children with Japanese women. Although not as prevalent since the war, it isn’t unheard of for the Japanese living in Japan to marry and / or have children with people outside their ethnic group. Indeed two former Miss World Japan winners are Multiethnic. Ariana Miyamoto  (2015) is half Black and half Japanese and Priyanka Yoshikawa is half Indian and half Japanese. Although the same race (Asian), Ms. Yoshikawa is Multiethnic. These two women shine a spotlight on obvious changing racial demographics in Japan, thus the need to report accurately.

Be that as it may…


It is illegal to collect data about racial and ethnic identity in France. This surprises me little as it might make it obvious to the French government there are many more North Africans living in their country than they care to admit, and of course, why they live there.

Again, be that is it may…

I chose some random countries and this is what I got. Whether people want to admit it or not, the changing racial demographics around the world is shifting as monoracial people continue marrying and having relationships outside their race and having children with these partners.

So what did I conclude? Multiracial people and people of color (PoC) are doing something many of us already knew. The #MultiracialCommunity is changing the physical, cultural, ethnic and racial landscape around the world.

All facts have been verified by each country’s census data (where appropriate) and backed up by the CIA World Factbook, which keeps tabs on all countries around the world.


My name is Sarah and I am one of the founders of Multiracial Media. Not only am I multiracial (Black, Asian and White), but I’ve also lived in or spent long periods of time in several countries, throughout the United States and now my husband and I live on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. I see myself both in terms of my racial and ethnic identity as well as someone who appreciates the food, culture and customs of all nations—like a citizen of the world. Sarah’s World Beat column reflects this.

If you would like me to write about your culture or country, please drop me a line and suggest a topic.

2 Responses to The Changing Racial Demographics Around the World

  1. Avatar Rukiyat Gilbert says:

    Thank you for your article Sarah. I’m curious to know how/why you selected these countries. You state that it was random selection, which I understand, but it interests me to know why countries as vast as Australia or the United States are sited with South Africa or Columbia. Are they similar in population numbers? Just curious.
    Thanks for your time and respect in responding!

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