Census categories: What happens when you let everyone self-identify?

I’ve blogged about this before, the US census is an ongoing and fascinating categorization case study.

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From the article: “By 1970 the government was collecting census data by mail-in survey. The shift to a survey had dramatic effects on at least one census category: race.”

  • First, it resulted in a dramatic increase in the Native American population. Between 1980 and 2000, the U.S. Native American population magically grew 110 percent. People who had identified as American Indian had apparently been somewhat invisible to the government.
  • Second, to the chagrin of the Census Bureau, 80 percent of Puerto Ricans choose white (only 40 percent of them had been identified as white in the previous census). The government wanted to categorize Puerto Ricans as predominantly black, but the Puerto Rican population saw things differently.

race-in-america

 

 

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