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E-3 California Race/Ethnic Population Estimates: Components of
Change for California Counties, April 1990 to April 2000

August 2005


This report was prepared by Melanie Martindale. Linda Gage provided revised July series county population controls. Cynthia Singer and Evaon Schnagl provided technical support.

Raw birth and death data are provided by the Center for Health Statistics (www.cdph.ca.gov), California Department of Public Health (www.cdph.ca.gov). 1990 Modified Age-Race-Sex (MARS) data and 2000 Modified Race (MR) data were provided by the US Census Bureau (www.census.gov).

Suggested Citation

State of California, Department of Finance, Race/Ethnic Population Estimates: Components of Change for California Counties, April 1990 to April 2000. Sacramento, California, August 2005.

This report presents state and county race/ethnic population estimates with components of change. It includes intercensal race/ethnic estimates from the 1990 Census to the 2000 Census. For the first time in the series, the Hispanic population is classified into race categories.


The race/ethnic distribution in California shifted substantially during the 1990s. By 2000, the White Non-Hispanic's share of the total population decreased from 57 percent to about 47 percent at the same time that Hispanics' portion of the state population grew from about a quarter to almost a third of the total. The Asian and Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic population's share also increased, to 12 percent from 9 percent. Over the same period, the proportion of the Black or African American Non-Hispanic population remained just about constant at 7 percent, while the share of American Indian Non-Hispanics grew to just over 1 percent.


Please note that in this detailed analysis the Asian and Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic population will be referred to as Asian and Pacific Islander; the White Non-Hispanic population will be referred to as White; the Black or African American Non-Hispanic population will be referred to as Black, and the American Indian and Alaskan Native Non-Hispanic will be referred to as American Indian.

Those who marked more than one race on their 2000 Census forms have been allocated to a single race for this report. These allocations were made to the smallest of their marked race groups in their counties of residence.

The Hispanic population increased at an average of about 327,000 persons per year from 1990 to 2000. This growth was driven by natural increase, which accounted for 2,294,000 (70 percent) of the gain over the period. The Hispanic population also grew in every county. Mono County had the fastest growing Hispanic population, with an annual growth rate of about 10 percent for the decade. Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino had the largest increases in the Hispanic population, adding 889,000, 310,000 and 291,000, respectively. Imperial continued to have by far the highest Hispanic proportion: its 1990 percent of 66 increased to 72 percent by 2000. Tulare's population in 2000 was almost 51 percent Hispanic, while San Benito, Monterey, Colusa, Merced, Los Angeles, Madera, Fresno, and Kings all had populations that were more than 40 percent Hispanic. Trinity had the proportionately smallest Hispanic population, less than 4 percent of its total.

In contrast to the Hispanic population, the increase in the Asian and Pacific Islander population was primarily due to migration, which accounted for 68 percent of the 1,407,000 total increase. The Asian and Pacific Islander population increased in all counties over the period, but by 2000 the population was becoming more concentrated: two thirds of this group was found in just six large counties (Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Orange, Alameda, San Diego and San Francisco). However, Calaveras, Modoc, Placer, Alpine, and Amador Counties had the fastest growing Asian and Pacific Islander populations, each growing at least 15 percent per year. Calaveras had the fastest annual growth rate at 20 percent. Los Angeles County had the largest gain in Asian and Pacific Islander population, 320,000, followed by Santa Clara with 207,000. By the end of the period, San Francisco had the highest proportion of Asian & Pacific Islander population of any county, with one in three persons being so identified. In addition, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda had Asian and Pacific Islander shares greater than 20 percent. These same four counties also had had the highest proportions of Asian and Pacific Islanders in 1990, but the proportions then were lower than in 2000. Reflecting this population's relative geographic concentration, 19 counties had an Asian and Pacific Islander population of 2 percent or less of their totals in 2000.

The White population declined by nearly 1 million over the period. This is the result of a gain of 406,000 from natural increase (the difference between births and deaths) being more than offset by net out migration of 1.4 million. The White population grew in only 27 counties over the period, with Placer and Riverside Counties gaining the most, 56,000 and 41,000 respectively. Placer and San Benito had the fastest growing White populations, growing at annual rates of 3.6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. Los Angeles County’s White population declined by almost 588,000 over the period, while Santa Clara and San Bernardino each lost over 100,000 Whites. In contrast, two counties, Nevada and Sierra, had a White proportion exceeding 90 percent in both 1990 and 2000. By 2000, both counties were 91 percent White, with just 16 counties having 80 percent or more of their populations White. At the lower end, the three counties with the lowest White proportion were Fresno (40 percent), Los Angeles (32 percent), and Imperial (20 percent). The drop in proportion White was particularly marked in San Bernardino, which declined by 16 percentage points over the decade. The drop was 13 percentage points in three other counties (Colusa, Riverside and Santa Clara.) By 2000, whites were a minority in 13 counties where they had been a majority in 1990.

Blacks remain about 7 percent of California’s population, growing about 1.1 percent annually. Net migration accounted for only 1 percent of the growth of this group. San Benito, Nevada, and Placer had the fastest growing Black populations. San Bernardino had the largest increase in the Black population, with 48,000 more Black persons by 2000. Alameda and Solano had the highest Black proportion of any county, both estimated at slightly over 15 percent. Sacramento was the only other county with a Black population proportion of over 10 percent. The Black population decreased in 11 counties over the period, while 14 counties had less than 1 percent of their populations identified as Black.

The American Indian population has grown steadily due to increases in both net migration and natural increase, more than doubling over the period. The number of American Indians grew in all but two counties — Mono and Alpine. San Benito and Marin had the fastest growing American Indian populations. Los Angeles showed the largest numeric growth of the group during the decade, over 34,000. Counties adding 11,000 to 16,000 American Indians over the period include San Diego, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Orange, and Riverside. Alpine has the proportionately largest American Indian population, with almost 18 percent being American Indian. Inyo, Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, Siskiyou, Mendocino, Mariposa, and Modoc also have populations that are about 5 percent or more American Indian.


  • Births and deaths data were tabulated annually by race/ethnicity at the county level. These historical data series were the basis of the estimates.
  • The data series were book ended by the 1990 and 2000 censuses as processed into the 1990 MARS and 2000 MR data files by the US Census Bureau.
  • Crude birth and death rates were computed for census years and then interpolated for intercensal years. Actual births and deaths for those years were used to compute raw race/ethnic populations.
  • The race/ethnic population estimates based on the crude birth and death rates were averaged and controlled to the updated county controls found in the report, Updated E-6 Revised Historical County Population Estimates and Components of Change, July 1990–1999, Sacramento, California, February 2005.
  • Net migration is a residual calculated by subtracting natural increase (births minus deaths) from net population change.
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