From multiracial children to gender identity, what some demographers are studying now
Pew Research Center
D’Vera Cohn, Senior Writer/Editor
The nation’s largest annual demography conference, held in Washington, D.C., last week, featured new research on topics including couples who live in separate homes, children of multiracial couples, transgender Americans, immigration law enforcement and how climate change affects migration. Here is a roundup of five of the many innovative posters and papers from the Population Association of America meeting, some based on preliminary work. They give insight into the questions on researchers’ minds. (To see the conference presentations by our own Pew Research Center experts, check out this page.)…
…Children of multiracial couples
When two people of different races have a child together, how do they choose to identify the race of their child on census forms? Carolyn A. Liebler and José Pacas of the University of Minnesota analyzed U.S. census data from 1960 to 2010 – a period of dramatic rise in interracial marriage that has resulted in a corresponding growth of the multiracial population. Since 1960, Americans have been allowed to choose their own race on census forms, rather than having enumerators do it for them. Although the census form did not offer people the opportunity to check more than one race box until 2000, the researchers found that some did so as early as 1980.
Their research found that not all interracially married parents checked more than one race box for their young children. Different groups varied in their responses, too. Some factors mattered in how parents did report race: Interracial couples living in the West, the region with the largest Asian and Pacific Islander population, were more likely to report their child is Asian and Pacific Islander, alone or in combination with another race. A child of a white or black male householder was more likely to be reported as the same race as the father.
But other factors, such as whether a parent is Hispanic (an ethnic category, not a race), didn’t make a consistent difference, the researchers found. In general, the share of married people living in a census tract who have mixed-race marriages is not linked to how the child’s race is reported…
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