the 1980 census. The higher rates were due partially to the decision, based on budget limitations, to cut back on field follow-up for the short-form questionnaires that failed field content edit. The Census Bureau studies, however, show that the national figures hide great variability in the allocation rate for race and Hispanic origin, and that the variability for the national average is likely to be clustered in certain localities. For example, 1990 census allocation rates were substantially higher, above 20 percent, for both race and Hispanic origin in some census tracts of Los Angeles County. Furthermore, the variability has a great effect on some population groups. For instance, over 62 percent of black Mexicans were allocated in the census (del Pinal, 1994). These relatively high allocation rates can have potentially adverse effects on small-area analysis such as those on residential segregation.

All major race groups, except American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts, experienced increases in short-form allocations. The "other race" category experienced the highest rate of computer allocations in 1990 and the largest increase from the 1980 rate (see Table K.2).

The high nonresponse to the ancestry and Hispanic-origin items is also of concern. It may in part reflect respondents' perception that the race, Hispanic origin, and ancestry questions are asking for the same information and may lead some respondents to not answer all three items. Some researchers have suggested that the Census Bureau explore ways of combining these questions to reduce nonresponse rates and perhaps to reduce inconsistent reporting in these items as well (Farley, 1993). Efforts to shorten the census long form might also force consideration of a combined question if the census is still to gather ancestry data.


Measures of inconsistency also provided evidence, however, of some misreporting in certain race and Hispanic-origin categories and of moderate inconsistency in ancestry reporting. Persons identifying in the American Indian, other Asian and Pacific Islander and other race categories of the race item and in the other Hispanic category of the Hispanic-origin item showed high inconsistency rates in their responses to these items. This is of concern because these are the write-in categories for the race and Hispanic-origin items. It may indicate a need for the Census Bureau to further examine the presentation and instructions for the write-in entries on the race and Hispanic items and to better understand how respondents perceive and interpret these questions.

The levels of inconsistency are especially important and of concern for the American Indian population because of its relatively small size and the importance of the data to develop and fund programs for American Indian tribal and Alaska native village governments. In addition to this inconsistent reporting, instances of Asian Indians reporting themselves or their children as American

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