Response to Change: Census Racial Classification and Biracial Children’s Racial Options

Zhenchao Qian, Ohio State University

To classify race, Americans must mark one racial category only in the 1990 Census, but are able to mark one or more in the 2000 Census. How did interracially married couples respond to changes in racial classification with their children’s race? Using data from the 5% PUMS of the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Censuses, I examine racial classification of children among African American-White, Asian American-White, and American Indian-White couples. In 1990, black-white couples are least likely to classify their children white while Asian-white couples are most likely. In 2000, black-white and Asian-white couples tend to classify their children biracially, but among those who identify their children with one race, the 1990 pattern remains. Further, I apply cohort approach to examine how children aged 0 to 5 in 1990 and aged 10-15 in 2000 were racially classified. This approach helps understand why some intermarried couples do not classify their children biracially.

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Presented in Session 99: Race, Ethnicity, Ancestry, and Caste in Demographic Measurement