Blurred (Poverty) Lines: Inequality in the Multiracial Era

Anthony D. Perez, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Brian L. Levy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This paper examines how racial differences in poverty are affected by the racial identification of multiracial persons and how this dynamic has changed over the past decade. Previous research identifies substantial fluidity in the racial classification of multiracial individuals, posing a challenge for demographers interested in racial inequality. Using data from the 2000 census and 2009-2011 American Community Surveys, we investigate patterns and trends of racial misclassification and their impact on child poverty rates. Results reveal widespread misclassification of multiracial children as monoracial minorities. These misclassified multiracials are economically advantaged relative to their monoracial peers, yielding substantial bias in the monoracial child poverty rates. White/non-white poverty gaps for several populations would be 20-70 percent greater without misclassification. The bias induced by misclassification has grown over the past decade, and given the rapid growth of the multiracial population and the increasing prevalence of interracial marriage, the growth seems likely to continue.

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Presented in Session 157: Demography and Ethno-Racial Inequality II