Analysis of Racial Characterization Under Different Reporting Options
Beginning with the 2000 decennial census, the U.S. Census Bureau changed the way it collected data on race. The previous method assigned each person to one of five single-race categories, including “other.” The new method eliminated the “other” category, instead allowing respondents to choose as many categories as applied to them from a list of five. Other U.S. government surveys soon adopted the same procedure, among them the American Housing Survey (AHS), which began using the new method in its 2003 survey. Because the AHS is longitudinal by housing unit, one can compare data from the 2001 and 2003 survey to determine how respondents who did not move during the period answered the new and old race questions. It was hypothesized that respondents choosing the “other” category under the old system would be more likely to choose multiple categories under the new method. Instead, however, 95.5 percent of these respondents chose only a single race under the new system, with 77.2 percent indicating that they were white only. The study notes that 72.5 percent of the persons who reported their race as “other” in 2001 also reported their ethnicity as Hispanic. More than half of the respondents who indicated more than one race included Native American as one of their responses.