America’s Churning Races: Race Response Changes between Census 2000 and Census 2010

Carolyn A. Liebler, University of Minnesota
James Noon, U.S. Census Bureau

Race responses, Hispanic responses, and corresponding identities can change over time and across contexts. Are these changes widespread or rare? Which groups are affected by such changes? We use internal Census Bureau data from the 2000 and 2010 censuses in which individuals’ responses have been linked across years to answer these questions. We find that millions of individuals (about 6% of our sample) changed their race and/or Hispanic origin responses between 2000 and 2010. These changes occur in every direction – into and out of single race groups, Hispanic and non-Hispanic designations, and across multiple-race categories. Response changes are widespread, happening among males and females, youth and adults, in the West region and in other regions. Multiple-race response groups experienced substantial churning, as did the race responses of Hispanics, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders. Some groups show substantial stability in race/Hispanic responses, particularly single race non-Hispanic whites, blacks, and Asians.

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Presented in Session 112: Measuring Race and Ethnicity