The Census Bureau is now considering increasing their options for the race and ethnicity section after a million Hispanics declared themselves White in the 2010 Census.
According to The New York Times, a report by Pew Research uncovered that 1.2 million Hispanics chose “Some Other Race” as a race since they were unable to find their ethnicity on the form.
An estimated net 1.2 million Americans of the 35 million Americans identified in 2000 as of “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin,” as the census form puts it, changed their race from “some other race” to “white” between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.The census form asks two questions about race and ethnicity: one about whether individuals are of Hispanic or Latino origin, and another about race. “Hispanics” do not constitute a race, according to the census, and so 37 percent of Hispanics, presumably dissatisfied with options like “white” or “black,” selected “some other race.”
The findings also which showed that 2.5 million Latinos changed their race from “Some Other Race” to “White.” With over 35 million Americans of Hispanic origin in the United States, this poses a problem for accountability in the US. With reports showing that Hispanics will dominate as the majority and White as the minority in the future, the census will falsely show that Whites will still be the majority.
White identification is not necessarily a sign that Hispanics consider themselves white. Many or even most might identify their race as “Hispanic” if it were an explicit option. But white identification may still be an indicator of assimilation. White identifiers are likelier to be second- and third-generation Hispanics than foreign-born and noncitizen Hispanics. They also have higher levels of education and income. The researchers’ data did not show the country of origin of the families of those people who shifted their identification.
Hispanics aren’t the only ones who deal with identify issues on the census. Pew Research Center also discovered that an overall 10 million Americans checked a different race or Hispanic-origin for the form because their race isn’t represented. The Census announced in March that they will work with Hispanic advocacy groups to improve options for Hispanics and other citizens of the US.
Agency officials intend to meet with Hispanic advocacy groups this spring and others interested in potential changes to the race-Hispanic questions to get feedback. It plans to test a combined race and ethnicity question on its Current Population Survey next year and on its American Community Survey in 2016.
The Census has plenty of time to gather the correct information. New categories and ideas must be turned in to Congress by 2017.