Pew Research: More Hispanics Self-Identify as White

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 11:26 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Millions of Americans who identified themselves in the 2000 Census as Hispanic and some other race – the census form distinguishes between race and ethnicity – identified in 2010 as being Hispanic and white, according to The New York Times and Pew Research Center.

The data was discussed at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, though the findings haven’t yet been published, the Times reports.

The census does not consider being Hispanic a race, according to the Times, and the form separates race and ethnicity into two categories. The first focuses on whether someone is of Hispanic or Latino origin; the other asks about race.

As a result, some 37 percent of Hispanics, who were "presumably dissatisfied with options like 'white' or 'black,' selected 'some other race.'"

Some 2.5 million Americans who identified in 2000 as Hispanic and another race changed to Hispanic and white in 2010, according to the Times.

Hoping to clarify confusion about race and ethnicity identifiers, census officials are looking at changing how it asks those questions for the 2020 census, according to Pew. For now, researchers are tasked with analyzing how Hispanics self-identify.

According to the Times, Hispanics who identify as white are typically more educated, earn more money, and are more likely to be "second-and-third-generation" as opposed to "foreign-born" and non-citizen Hispanics.

How Hispanics self-identify on census forms could impact whether America’s majority remains white or shifts to a minority-majority nation, which has been predicted under the assumption that Hispanics are not white, according to the Times. The projections have assumed that the 35 million Hispanics in the United States aren’t white.

More than any other group, Hispanics account for the majority of Americans who check "some other race" on census forms, according to Pew. Explanations may be that "many Hispanics do not identify with a specific racial group or think of Hispanic as a race, even though it is an ethnicity in the federal statistical system."

"There could be other reasons, too, such as evolving self-identity or benefits – such as such as priority in college admissions – with being associated with certain groups," according to Pew, which reports that President Barack Obama checked only "black" on his 2010 Census form, despite having a white mother and black father.

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