Forced to Choose: Some Determinants of Racial Identification

Forced to Choose: Some Determinants of Racial Identification

Child Development
May/June 2004
Volume 75, Number 3
Pages 730-748

Melissa Herman, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Dartmouth University

This paper categorizes multiracial youth (N=1,496) ages 14 to 19 and compares them with other and with monoracial youth on identity development measures.  The multiracial categories used here are derived from youths’ reports of their own and their parents’ race(s).  Comparisons are made within groups of multiracial respondents who make different choices among single-race categories.  Results show differences between sub-groups in strength and importance of ethnic identity, self-esteem, and perceptions of ethnic discrimination.  Multinomial logistic regression show further that physiognomy, ethnic identity, and race of coresident parent(s) are significantly associated with reported race.  Also related to racial identification among part-Hispanic youth are racial distribution and socioeconomic status of their neighborhoods and the racial distribution of their schools.

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