of foreign-born people with incomes five times or more the poverty line, 6 identified as white by race and 4 as Asian. Native-born whites and native-born blacks fared less well than their foreign-born counterparts.

In the case of Hispanics, preliminary research by del Pinal (1992) based on the Current Population Survey explored the effects of various combinations of race and Hispanic-origin categories on the level of selected socioeconomic indicators. He found that Hispanics are nearly 10 percent of the white category and about 1.5 percent of all blacks. He argues that, on one hand, due to the relatively disadvantaged position of Hispanics, their inclusion in the white category tends to attenuate the difference between whites and other race categories on several important socioeconomic characteristics (e.g., labor force status, educational attainment, poverty level, family income) and that, at a minimum, Hispanics should be removed from the white category. On the other hand, the overlap between black and other numerically smaller race categories with Hispanic origin is small and, for now, does not adversely affect the analytical results of basic socioeconomic indicators.

The Census Bureau's analysis indicates that race and ethnicity are complex matters and not likely to be suitably enumerated with one or two questions. The analysis provides some evidence that the question might be more consistent with some respondents' concepts and self-perception, for example, by allowing respondents to identify with more than one race group; to report as multiracial; to treat "Hispanic" as equivalent to a race group; and to combine the race and Hispanic-origin items. At the same time, other respondents might find such changes less consistent with their concepts and self-perceptions. The implications of any such changes for providing data needed for legislative and programmatic purposes clearly require thorough research. In addition, because of the complexity of race and ethnicity, any proposed changes to these items requires consultation with affected groups and data users. Such consultation must occur concurrently with testing.

Testing of the race questions before the 1990 census showed that questions with write-in responses for subgroups within a category may produce data as reliable as that from questions with prespecified categories. Questions for write-in responses hold advantages in capturing groups not represented by the detailed categories of the race question. At the same time, benefits of write-in questions must be weighted against their higher processing costs. The Census Bureau's ability to process write-in data in a timely fashion should be considered.

Census Bureau evaluations have been confirmed by other data users. In recent years with the growth of new populations, Statistical Directive 15 has been questioned as being outdated and not reflecting the current and foreseeable population. New immigrants often identify themselves by national origin rather than major categories. Other populations of more than one race or ethnicity find it difficult to choose only one category. There is acknowledgment by federal

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement