Quick: What percentage of the U.S. adult population is Black?

The question is a statistical one, not social, politcal or philosophical.

Recently, YouGov asked people to guess the percentage of American adults who are “members of 43 different groups, including racial and religious groups, as well as other less frequently studied groups, such as pet owners and those who are left-handed”.

And the answer is…


If you guessed that 40% of American adults are Black, then your answer is close to to poll’s average response (41%).

You’re with the herd, but…

Actually, Blacks are only 12% of the American adult population.

So much for the oft-touted “wisdom of crowds”.

And,  the estimates vary when the queried “crowd” is divided into racial groups:

  • Black Americans estimate that, on average, Black people make up a majority (52%) of the U.S. adult population
  • Non-Black Americans estimate the proportion to be roughly 39%, closer to the real figure of 12%, but still way off



More generally, YouGov’s survey results conform to a common statistical finding that…

Americans generally over-estimate the size of minority groups and members of the minority groups tend to way overestimate the size of their group.

Conversely, Americans generally under-estimate the size of minority groups

Below are more results from  the YouGov Survey.

Note: A high estimate to actual ratio is an indication of the degree of over-estimation.   An E to A ratio under 1 indicates a case of over-estimation


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