Choosing Race: Multiracial Ancestry and Identification

Choosing Race: Multiracial Ancestry and Identification

Social Science Research
Volume 40, Issue 2 (March 2011)
pages 498–512
DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.12.010

Aaron Gullickson, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Oregon

Ann Morning, Assistant Professor of Sociology
New York University

Social scientists have become increasingly interested in the racial identification choices of multiracial individuals, partly as a result of the federal government’s new “check all that apply” method of racial identification. However, the majority of work to date has narrowly defined the population of multiracial individuals as the “biracial” children of single-race parents. In this article, we use the open-ended ancestry questions on the 1990 and 2000 5% samples of the U.S. Census to identify a multiracial population that is potentially broader in its understanding of multiraciality. Relative to other studies, we find stronger historical continuity in the patterns of hypodescent and hyperdescent for part-black and part-American Indian ancestry individuals respectively, while we find that multiple race identification is the modal category for those of part-Asian ancestry. We interpret this as evidence of a new, more flexible classification regime for groups rooted in more recent immigration. Our results suggest that future work on multiracial identification must pay closer attention to the varied histories of specific multiracial ancestry groups.

Read the entire article here.

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