According to data analyzed by the Pew Research Center, millions of citizens in America counted in the 2000 census changed their race or Hispanic-origin categories when they filled out the forms in 2010.
Hispanics, Americans of mixed race, American Indians and Pacific Islanders were among the most likely to check difference boxes this time around.
The researchers, who included university and government population scientists, analyzed census forms for 168 million Americans, and found that more than 10 million of them checked different race or Hispanic-origin boxes in the 2010 census than they had in the 2000 count. Smaller-scale studies have shown that people sometimes change the way they describe their race or Hispanic identity, but the new research is the first to use data from the census of all Americans to look at how these selections may vary on a wide scale.
“Do Americans change their race? Yes, millions do,” said study co-author Carolyn A. Liebler, a University of Minnesota sociologist who worked with Census Bureau researchers. “And this varies by group.”
Researchers cite confusion as to how the census asks separately about race and ethnicity as a possible reason for the switch.
Other reasons such as revolving self-identity or benefits associated with being identified with certain groups could also be responsible for the change. The Census Bureau is considering revisiting its race and ethnicity questions for the next census in 2020.
Will we begin to see changes in the way that Americans identify themselves on the U.S. Census more frequently?
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