June 12, 2003
Traditional and current data collection and classification treat race and Hispanic origin as two separate and distinct concepts in accordance with guidelines from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In contrast, the practice of some organizations, researchers, and media is to show race and Hispanic origin together as one concept. The introduction of the option to report more than one race added more complexity to the presentation and comparison of these data. This document provides U.S. Census Bureau guidance to the user community on how to handle the interpretation of race and Hispanic origin data.
Summary of Issues
Data on Race and Hispanic Origin
As noted above, the overlap of the concepts of race and Hispanic origin is the main comparability issue when users want to compare the population size of a specific race with the number of Hispanics, or even when comparing the population size of one race group with another. Table 1 classifies the Black and the Hispanic populations from the population estimates data showing each person once (three mutually exclusive categories). Due to the overlap issue, Black Hispanics (or Hispanic Blacks) can be included in either the total Black or the total Hispanic population.
|A. Black, non-Hispanic||35.5||36.1||36.6|
|B. Non-Black, Hispanic||33.7||35.6||37.0|
|C. Black Hispanic (or Hispanic Black)||1.6||1.7||1.7|
When comparing a race group with the number of Hispanics, U.S. Census Bureau news releases include the overlapping group in each population total. This option represents the most inclusive option for both the race group and for Hispanics. Table 2 shows the Black and the Hispanic population totals from the population estimates data, including the overlapping group, Black Hispanics (or Hispanic Blacks) in both totals.
|Black alone or in combination*||37.1||37.8||38.3|
Questions and Answers Regarding the Comparison of Data on Race and Hispanic Origin
Q1. Why are the numbers of Blacks and Hispanics for 2002 different in the Current Population Survey (CPS) report and the population estimates?
A1. The population estimates numbers pertain to the total resident population and include population groups, such as the military population and people living in institutions (primarily the population in correctional institutions and nursing homes), who are not included in the CPS.
The 2002 CPS asked individuals to identify only one race. In contrast, the population estimates are based on data that asked people to report one or more races.
Q2. The CPS results and the population estimates are different, but I want to know the total number of Blacks in the United States. Which data source should I use?
A2. Use the population estimates. The CPS totals do not include people in the military or living in institutions and so do not completely represent the total population.
Q3. The sum of the population estimates numbers for the "Race alone or in combination with one or more other races" heading is greater than the total U.S. population. How is that possible?
A3. The sum is larger than the total population because people who provided more than one race response are included in the total of each race they reported. Thus, someone who reported as "Black and Asian" is counted in both the Black total and in the Asian total.