Research is under way in several of the statistical agencies on methods for developing historical series using the old and new racial categories. The alternative—to announce a break in the series—is unattractive, especially for those who analyze trends. BLS and NCHS have undertaken research to work the new data backwards so that they can be interpreted as a single series, before and after 2000.
Several data sources are being used in this research to bridge the new and old racial categories. BLS has arranged for all respondents to the National Longitudinal Survey to be asked the race question a second time in order to obtain data for the same people using the old and new racial categories. BLS has also undertaken research to use information collected in special supplements to the CPS to introduce a CPS historical series in 2003, using population weights for both 1990 and 2000.
Many of the agencies will also make use of the time series developed in the HIS to help develop a bridge to the old racial categories. For many years, the HIS has permitted respondents to select one or more races, and for those who do so, ask a follow-up question to determine the race with which the respondent identifies most closely. These data should provide a reasonable foundation for developing historical data for the NCHS health surveys and may also assist other agencies in linking data reported under the 1977 and 1997 standards
Although education and employment data may be available as early as 2005, it appears unlikely that data collected from other forms and administrative records will provide information on multiple races in the near future. BJS, for example, works with probation offices, jails, and state correction agencies to collect data from their records, but in most cases these forms include very limited racial data. In the case of the vital records system developed through cooperation between NCHS and the states, the problem is that data on race either are not present at all or are subject to considerable understatement. For example, the race of a child is not recorded on the birth certificates in most states. Information on race on death certificates is usually furnished by physicians or funeral directors, who may have little knowledge of the deceased. The result is that racial information on death certificates may be inaccurate or not reported at all.
Census population estimates, together with up-to-date data on immigration, emigration, and births and deaths, are used as controls for all gov-