Towards a Comparable Measure of Race and Ethnicity in Cross-National Research?

Sin Yi Cheung, Cardiff University
C. Matthew Snipp, Stanford University

This paper discusses some of the methodological difficulties in the construction of a standardized measure for the concepts of race and ethnicity in cross-national research. We begin with some theoretical considerations in the measurement of two constantly evolving concepts. We then examine the key differences how certain racial and ethnic groups are defined in some of the classic immigrant receiving and ethnically diverse countries, depending on the actual wording of the questions and the level of details collected, using data sources from census and other large-scale national surveys in these countries. Finally, we consider how transnational movements and global migration make the quest for reliable and valid measures ever more urgent and important for capturing new demographic patterns and emergence of exceptionally different groups, particularly those of multiple-origins.

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Presented in Session 159: Demography of Multiple Race Populations: New Research