Changing Questions, Changing Races: New Indigenous People in Contemporary America

Carolyn A. Liebler, University of Minnesota
Timothy Ortyl, University of Minnesota

We aim to better understand the reasons that people change their races responses. Taking into account births, deaths, and immigration, we find that there are about 1.3 million people who reported their race as American Indian in 2000 who did NOT report that race in 1990. We specifically investigate two questions: What are the characteristics of the people who changed their race responses when the question changed? And can we assume that people who reported American Indian race in 1990 are the same people who reported American Indian as their only race in 2000? We decompose the enumerated 1990 population of American Indians by age, sex, Latino origin, and birth state and apply life table analyses to calculate the expected number of American Indians in 2000 in each sub-population. To limit the negative effects of sampling error on our results, we utilize the restricted-use, high-density versions of the decennial census data.

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Presented in Session 54: Subnational Estimates and Projections