This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Perceptions and Misconceptions About Race in America

This has been a busy few days in terms of racial self-identification in the U.S. First, Pew Research published a report on multi-racial persons in the America. In the last two censuses (2000 and 2010)  the Census Bureau has given people the option of classifying themselves as having more than one racial origin. Pew used survey data to ask more questions about a person's background, including race of parents and grandparents and came up with a larger estimate of the multiracial population than found when using the census-style questions. These findings are interesting because when asking the same question as the census, the Pew study found that 1.4% of respondents considered themselves to be multiracial--very close to the 2.1% found in the 2013 American Community Survey data and well within the margin of error, suggesting no difference with the census data. However, when they added in the characteristics of parents and grandparents, the figure went up to 6.9% who could be considered multiracial, even if they don't identify themselves that way.

Of particular interest is the graph showing that people whose multiracial background includes black and something else are more likely than other groups to have experienced discrimination, especially from the police (see graph below). This is exactly in line with a paper published today in the latest issue of Demography by Andrew Penner and Aliya Saperstein. They used data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) in which respondents were asked about their own racial identity, but in which the interviewer also provided an independent assessment of the person's race, and they didn't always agree. They then compared those differences with self-reports of arrests by the respondents. Although the numbers are small, the results are intriguing and both statistically and substantively significant:
...being seen as black by others is associated with a sizable and statistically significant increase in the odds of experiencing a future arrest (odds ratio = 2.78, p < .01), even among individuals who do not identify themselves black. By contrast, the second bar of Fig. 1 shows that the effect of self-identifying as black is close to null and not significant among respondents who were not classified by the interviewer as black (odds ratio = .97, p = .96).
In other words:
Our findings suggest that racial disparities in arrest rates in the contemporary United States are more closely related to how young adults are perceived racially by others, relative to how they identify their own race.
Finally, there is the rather unusual situation of the President of the NAACP office in Spokane being called out for not being black, even though she claims to be. Her parents say she isn't, so the self-identification as black is obviously fraudulent.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting material on Ukraine.