In this brief, author Kenneth Johnson reports that the U.S. population grew by a modest 7.4 percent during the past decade to 331.4 million in April 2020. Yet, there was significant variation in the rate and direction of population change among the numerous racial and Hispanic origin groups that together represent the U.S. population. The net result was a significant increase in racial diversity over the course of the decade, both in the population as a whole, and children in particular. Diversity was geographically widespread and increased in every region of the country.

The nation’s growing racial-ethnic diversity increases the likelihood of interaction across racial boundaries in the workplace and community. This is reflected in the growing incidence of intermarriage among racial groups and the rapid increase in the number of multiracial children. However, the spatial unevenness of diversity suggests that opportunities for racial and ethnic interaction will vary from place to place.

Because diversity is growing the most among those under age 18, youth centered institutions—such as schools and health care providers—have been the first to serve a diverse population. The growing diversity of the nation’s youngest residents gives them a greater opportunity to grow up in multiracial and multiethnic communities that will enhance interracial relations, widen friendship networks, and prepare them for life in an increasingly diverse nation.


Carsey School of Public Policy

Publication Date

Fall 10-6-2021


National Issue Brief No. 157


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



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