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According to Lavanya Ramanathan:

That future may not be far off. Whatever forces are working to erect walls and negate travel documents may be too late to change what is underway: Immigration and birthrate trends suggest that by 2046, the United States will be made up of more non-whites than whites.

Medium.com

Is this true?

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    We can't say if it's true until it's 2046. What we can say now, is whether well-documented projections by established institutions agree with this assessment. It sounds plausible although it may depend on the definition of white (in particular w.r.t. Hispanics). – gerrit Mar 17 '17 at 10:35
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    You're asking 2 different questions. More non-whites than whites means whites make up less than 50% of the population. That's credible, depending on how you classify mixed races. However, 49% is hardly a minority if the next highest is <20% – Peter - Unban Robert Harvey Mar 17 '17 at 10:51
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    It also depends on the definition of "minority". Note that some definitions of minority refer to "the group not in power". It is quite possible to have a group superior in numbers being under control of, and discriminated by, a smaller portion of the total population... – DevSolar Mar 17 '17 at 12:50
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Lavanya Ramanathan is using a definition of "white" that is contrary to the US definition.

This can be seen by a more-complete quotation:

Immigration and birthrate trends suggest that by 2046, the United States will be made up of more non-whites than whites. And the change will be fueled in part by immigrants from Latin and South America, from Asia and Mideast nations, but also by their American-born children and grandchildren.

Oppositely, the United States defines white as:

White – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa

The "Middle East" is defined in immigration law as ending at the Pakistan western border.

By self-report, in 2010, 26.7 million out of 50.5 million Hispanics considered themselves "white alone" and another 2.4 million consider themselves white in combination with another race.

The US definition of "Hispanic" is:

“Hispanic or Latino” refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.

A much more accurate article on this topic is the New York Times article The Myth of a White Minority which links to actual data and says:

In March [2015], it projected that non-Hispanic whites would be a minority by 2044

...

The predictions make sense only if you accept the outdated, illogical methods used by the census, which define as a “minority” anyone who belongs to “any group other than non-Hispanic White alone.”

So Ramanathan should have said "less than 50% non-Hispanic white-alone persons" instead of "more non-whites than whites", used 2044 not 2046, and linked to a data source.

  • In order to improve your answer, I'd suggest you replace the "should have" in your last sentence by "could have": the United States definition that you quote may be binding in official contexts, but there's no rule or convention that a newspaper piece on the issue of ethnicity is in any way obliged to use that definition, and the statement isn't falsified by not doing so; a demographic projection that is valid for 2044 will be valid also for 2046; a data source might a useful addition, but is hardly a necessity for an essay in the Magazine section of a newspaper. – Schmuddi Mar 17 '17 at 15:04
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    @Schmuddi If she is using a US government report for the 2046 number she should use the definitions the report uses. Instead, rather than linking to the actual report, she is concealing the actual report and misrepresenting it. If she wants to use an extremist definition of "white", then she should explain her extremist definition of white in the article so the reader knows what it is. – DavePhD Mar 17 '17 at 15:22
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    The more common definition of "white" (at least in the US) seems be the one excluding Hispanics (unfortunately, perhaps). "Race" is typically used fairly broadly for both racial and ethnic groups (this is not just an outdated use of the word; the current conception of racism depends on "Hispanic", "Muslim" etc. counting as races). – Ian D. Scott Mar 18 '17 at 1:16
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The source for the 2046 number is the Census Bureau in 2013.

Here is a AP report summarizing it:

Without increased immigration, whites would lose their U.S. majority in 2046 [...]

The 2046 estimate of a white minority is one of three new alternative projections based on rates for births and deaths and a scenario in which immigration follows its recent slower pace of adding more than 700,000 foreigners each year. [...]

The actual shift in demographics will be influenced by factors that can't accurately be forecast. They include the pace of the economic recovery, cultural changes, natural or manmade disasters, as well as any overhaul of immigration laws based on legislation now being debated in Congress.

Note that both the AP and Ramanathan use the term "white", while the bureau talks about "majority-minority", meaning "non-Hispanic single-race white".

The method used by the Census Bureau has been criticized by the New York Times for this usage of minority/white as it excludes people who would self-identify as white:

The predictions make sense only if you accept the outdated, illogical methods used by the census, which define as a “minority” anyone who belongs to “any group other than non-Hispanic White alone.” In the words “group” and “alone” lie a host of confusions. [...] The “one drop” rule was absurd, of course, yet it has effectively returned, with a vengeance, via statistical categories. There is no justification for viewing as not white all children who are partly white and being raised in a family that includes a white parent and two white grandparents, to say nothing of aunts, uncles and cousins.

The author - sociologist Richard Alba - goes into a bit more depth about the one-drop rule used by the Bureau which treats some self-identified white people as minority and the possibility of changing definitions of whiteness in a separate article.

  • The New York Times article also links to the newer 2015 report. When they say "In March, it projected" that means March 2015. – DavePhD Mar 17 '17 at 13:25

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