With Ngram Viewer you can check the patterns of popularity over time: While the older classical physical anthropology terms like “Negroid” and “Caucasoid” fell into disuse after 1960, as you’d expect, “Caucasian” went through a renaissance in the 1990s.
I think RPM’s supposition is probably correct, people wanted a pretentious term somewhat less coarse than white, and since most people are geography-challenged, “Caucasian” sounds good if you want to pose as the Further enhancing the realism is doubtless the most non-Caucasian cast in Hollywood Bible movie history.
But the roots of such terminology are a bit disturbing; it was postulated that the natives of the Caucasus exhibited the idealized physical appearance so the Caucasus were believed to be the birthplace of mankind.
The logic behind this idea — the assumption that Whites exhibit the best physical appearance — is implicitly racist.
This population is a sister lineage to the various Eurasian hominins, Neandertals, X-woman, etc.
2) Between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago a subset of the African population left Africa.
Yancey says that whites might interdate less because they are a numerical majority within American society.
One gets the feeling that the term ‘White’ fell out of favor and was replaced by ‘Caucasian’ much like ‘Black’ was replaced by ‘African-American’.
Up until the late 1990s I had thought of people from the Caucasus mountains when I heard the term, but then I began to reorient my assumption because of its colloquial usage.
But as it became more and more popular I got more irritated, because it became obvious that the type of people who now were using the term likely did not know where the Caucasus mountains were.
3) Sometime between the exit-from-Africa event and the present the anatomically modern humans replaced all other lineages (with some assimilation) and diversified.
My confidence in any specific aspect of the “orthodox census” is very high, though joint probability of the details is more modest. Each individual is represented by one dot and the color label corresponding to their regional origin. Each individual’s genome is represented by a vertical bar composed of colored sections, where each section represents the proportion of an individual’s ancestry derived from one of the K ancestral populations.