UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Establishing the denominator : The challenges of measuring multiracial, Hispanic, and Native American populations Roth, Wendy D.


The norms for how multiracial, Hispanic, and Native American populations self-identify are less well established than for other population groups in the United States. There is considerable variation and fluidity in how these groups identify their race and ethnicity, as well as how they are classified by others. This presents challenges for estimating and analyzing these populations based on their self-identification alone. I argue that self-identification should be treated as a numerator, but the challenge is for researchers to establish the denominator – the population that could identify as members of the group based on their ancestry. Considering how many people who could identify with these groups choose to do so sheds light on assimilation and emerging racial classification processes. Analyses of the larger potential populations further avoid bias stemming from non-random patterns of self-identification with the groups.

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