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Since 1977 the federal statistical agencies have used the four racial categories (American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and White) and two ethnic categories (Hispanic origin, and Not of Hispanic origin) specified by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Statistical Policy Directive No. 15. These are the minimum categories for reporting race and ethnicity.

In 1994 OMB initiated a comprehensive review of the racial categories prescribed by Directive No. 15, as part of which the Census Bureau conducted three sample surveys: 1) The May 1995 Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a final report of which was published in June 1996; 2) the 1996 National Content Survey (NCS), the results of which were published in December 1996; and 3) the 1996 Race and Ethnic Targeted Test (RAETT), the results of which are presented for the first time in the accompanying report.

While the CPS and NCS surveys were designed to be nationally representative, a targeted sample design was used in the RAETT. This design provides larger samples of six targeted populations (Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and White ethnic) than does a nationally representative sample, by drawing the samples from areas with high concentrations of the specified population groups. Unlike the results of the two earlier samples, the results for the targeted sample in the RAETT can only be generalized to areas of relatively high concentrations of the targeted populations used to select each sample. These areas of high concentration represent 3 percent or less of American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander, and White ethnic households nationally, 8 percent of Alaska Native households, 10 percent of Black households, and 15 percent of Hispanic households.


Objective: Determine the effects of a multiracial category and of two new instructions in the race question: to "Mark one or more" or to "Mark all that apply."


Objective: Determine the effects of collecting information about race, Hispanic origin, and ancestry in a combined, two-part question.


Objective: Determine the effects of placing the Hispanic origin question immediately before the race question.


Objective: Test alternative terminologies, classifications, and formats in the race question.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division and
Decennial Statistical Studies Division

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Last Revised: October 31, 2011 at 10:03:15 PM