Research gathering for the 2020 Census will soon begin – yeah, already – and Census Bureau researchers are already looking at new ways to determine who’s Hispanic or Latino in the U.S.
The issue they face in gathering this data is the way Latinos and Hispanics prefer to classify themselves. That is, not fitting into one of the Census’ defined racial boxes:
The “some other race” option is not an official federal race category and was intended to be a residual option for a small number of respondents in census surveys. Instead, it has grown to become the third-largest race group counted by the Census Bureau in the past two censuses. This group is mainly Hispanic: In the 2010 census, 97% of those who checked “some other race” and no other race were Hispanic.
Pew Research Center surveys also find that a majority of Hispanics don’t see themselves fitting into the standard race categories offered by the Census Bureau. In addition, when it comes to describing their identity, more Hispanics prefer to use their family’s country of origin rather than the pan-ethnic terms “Hispanic” or “Latino.”
To address concerns about a rising share of “some other race” selections, Census researchers are testing a combined ethnicity question for 2020. People would be offered all the race and Hispanic options in one place, letting them check a box to identify as white, black, Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander or some other race or origin. The second part of the question would be a line under each category to supply more detail about their origin, tribe or race. Examples of this include: German, African American, Mexican, Navajo, Asian Indian and Samoan.
Any change in wording must be approved by Congress next year.