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Author Topic: Seeking better data on Hispanics, Census Bureau may change Census race questions  (Read 405 times)
cinyc
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« on: April 20, 2017, 06:15:50 pm »
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Seeking better data on Hispanics, Census Bureau may change how it asks about race
D’Vera Cohn/Pew Research Center
April 20, 2017

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Federal officials are considering major changes in how they ask Americans about their race and ethnicity, with the goal of producing more accurate and reliable data in the 2020 census and beyond. Recently released Census Bureau research underscores an important reason why: Many Hispanics, who are the nation’s largest minority group, do not identify with the current racial categories.

Census officials say this is a problem because in order to obtain good data, they need to make sure people can match themselves to the choices they are offered. Census data on race and Hispanic origin are used to redraw congressional district boundaries and enforce voting and other civil rights laws, as well as in a wide variety of research, including Pew Research Center studies.

After years of trying to persuade Hispanics to choose a standard race category, the Census Bureau has been testing a new approach, with what the agency says are promising results. In 2015, the bureau contacted 1.2 million U.S. households for a test census that experimented with two different ways of combining the Hispanic and race questions into one question (and included a proposed new “Middle Eastern or North African” category as well). Respondents could self-identify in as many categories as they wanted, or only one.

--Snip--

A proposed combined question does face obstacles. Some advocacy groups and researchers are concerned that new data would not be fully comparable with data collected up to now, even though the federal government would supply “bridging” guidance. In addition, the interagency group advising the budget office raised the question of whether the cost and effort of making a change could be justified for agencies other than the Census Bureau (most of which don’t use the “some other race” category).

--Snip--

More at the link.

The import of this, as I understand it, would make Hispanic and Middle Eastern a race, lowering the number of those who identify as White, (to a lesser extent) African-American, and (especially) Other race in the current framework.

But is it really a good idea to change the way we ask about race when things appear not to be backwards compatible?
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publicunofficial
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 08:05:34 pm »
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It's an important statistic that needs to be gathered. It's kind of sad that we have to do it, but it's reality.
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 08:18:23 pm »
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But is it really a good idea to change the way we ask about race when things appear not to be backwards compatible?

The current way we ask about race/ethnicity is completely idiotic and is completely counter-intuitive to how regular people think about the subject. No reason to be tethered to something that isn't working just because the transition might be difficult.
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cinyc
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2017, 08:28:47 pm »
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But is it really a good idea to change the way we ask about race when things appear not to be backwards compatible?

The current way we ask about race/ethnicity is completely idiotic and is completely counter-intuitive to how regular people think about the subject. No reason to be tethered to something that isn't working just because the transition might be difficult.

The transition will be easy.  It's just a matter of asking the race/Hispanic questions in a different way.  Very few people will remember how they answered the 2010 Census.

The backwards compatibility problem is that you won't be able to directly compare the 2020 results with the 2010, 2000, 1990 or 1980 data because the questions were asked in a different way.  The Other race population is very likely to go down, with little way of knowing exactly why, especially if they add a separate category for Middle Easterners and North Africans.  I suppose that's more of an issue for historians than anyone else.

I don't remember - did they ask for Middle Eastern ancestry in the 2010 census itself, or is our ancestry data solely from the ACS data?
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jimrtex
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2017, 11:15:46 pm »
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Seeking better data on Hispanics, Census Bureau may change how it asks about race
D’Vera Cohn/Pew Research Center
April 20, 2017

Quote
Federal officials are considering major changes in how they ask Americans about their race and ethnicity, with the goal of producing more accurate and reliable data in the 2020 census and beyond. Recently released Census Bureau research underscores an important reason why: Many Hispanics, who are the nation’s largest minority group, do not identify with the current racial categories.

Census officials say this is a problem because in order to obtain good data, they need to make sure people can match themselves to the choices they are offered. Census data on race and Hispanic origin are used to redraw congressional district boundaries and enforce voting and other civil rights laws, as well as in a wide variety of research, including Pew Research Center studies.

After years of trying to persuade Hispanics to choose a standard race category, the Census Bureau has been testing a new approach, with what the agency says are promising results. In 2015, the bureau contacted 1.2 million U.S. households for a test census that experimented with two different ways of combining the Hispanic and race questions into one question (and included a proposed new “Middle Eastern or North African” category as well). Respondents could self-identify in as many categories as they wanted, or only one.

--Snip--

A proposed combined question does face obstacles. Some advocacy groups and researchers are concerned that new data would not be fully comparable with data collected up to now, even though the federal government would supply “bridging” guidance. In addition, the interagency group advising the budget office raised the question of whether the cost and effort of making a change could be justified for agencies other than the Census Bureau (most of which don’t use the “some other race” category).

--Snip--

More at the link.

The import of this, as I understand it, would make Hispanic and Middle Eastern a race, lowering the number of those who identify as White, (to a lesser extent) African-American, and (especially) Other race in the current framework.

But is it really a good idea to change the way we ask about race when things appear not to be backwards compatible?
When I was a test subject for a census test in 2016, there were 8 choices:

Hispanic
White
Black
Asian
Middle Eastern or North African
American Indian or Alaskan Native
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Other

Under each you could provide additional details, so that "White" could be transformed into more of a European ethnicity. There is some debate whether MENA should include examples such as Armenian, Israeli, Iranian (Persian), etc.
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cinyc
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2017, 11:18:50 pm »
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When I was a test subject for a census test in 2016, there were 8 choices:

Hispanic
White
Black
Asian
Middle Eastern or North African
American Indian or Alaskan Native
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Other

Under each you could provide additional details, so that "White" could be transformed into more of a European ethnicity. There is some debate whether MENA should include examples such as Armenian, Israeli, Iranian (Persian), etc.

As I understand it, you could choose multiple races, correct?
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shua
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2017, 06:52:57 am »
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This looks like a reasonable change, relatively speaking.  Having an "ethnicity" category that just asks if you are Hispanic or not, while other ethnicities are included under the race question, is an absurdity. 
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2017, 08:55:27 am »
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That's ridiculous. Race and ethnicity are two very different things. The correct way to go about this is to expand the ethnicity section.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2017, 07:46:53 pm »
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When I was a test subject for a census test in 2016, there were 8 choices:

Hispanic
White
Black
Asian
Middle Eastern or North African
American Indian or Alaskan Native
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Other

Under each you could provide additional details, so that "White" could be transformed into more of a European ethnicity. There is some debate whether MENA should include examples such as Armenian, Israeli, Iranian (Persian), etc.

As I understand it, you could choose multiple races, correct?
I selected all 8. I am a curious person.

If you scroll down in the following, you will see an example of the web-based form:

Update on the U.S. Census Bureau's Race and Ethnic Research for the 2020 Census

After you select the major categories, you are then given a screen for each that permits greater expansion. This makes all the classifications more consistent and somewhat more like ethnicity or ancestry (the census does not count Chinese, Japanese, etc. as ancestry).

In 2010, there was not an Asian checkbox, but there were a group of boxes for Chinese, Japanese, etc. If you checked any, you were counted as Asian.

The Census Bureau has discovered that respondents are confused by terms such as "race", "ethnicity", etc. And it seems that Spanish-speaking respondents are confused by the more generic categories. The best responses appear to come from not actually asking a question but giving example answers:

"What are you? White, Black, Hispanic, etc.
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