Black/Irish: How Do Americans Understand Their Multiracial Ancestry?

Aaron Gullickson, University of Oregon
Ann Morning, New York University

In recent years, studies examining the racial identification of mixed-race individuals on surveys and the U.S. Census have proliferated. The majority of these studies either use parental racial information or a comparison of answers to the race question in different contexts to identify a multiracial population. This paper proposes another method for identifying a multiracial population that is broader and potentially more historical in its understanding of its multiracial heritage, by comparing the ancestry responses on the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census. The analysis clearly demonstrates that the identification patterns of multiracial individuals vary in systematic ways depending on which groups are involved that correspond to historical evidence on the dynamics of racial boundaries.

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Presented in Session 123: Measurement of Race and Ethnicity