Best Practices for Collecting and Using Information about Race and Hispanic Origin in Survey Research

Jenifer Bratter, Rice University
Ryon Cobb, University of Southern California
Mary E. Campbell, Texas A&M University
Carolyn A. Liebler, University of Minnesota
Sonya Rastogi, U.S. Census Bureau
Wendy Roth, University of British Columbia

Race is a multifaceted social construct that fundamentally organizes our society. We describe best practices for collecting information about race and for analysts using race to understand the social world. Survey designers who follow best practices will need to be clear about what they are measuring, measure it consistently across respondents, and fully document their procedures. We describe common pitfalls, discuss dimensions of race and which potential survey measures are thought to tap each dimension, and offer suggestions about question wording and interviewer training. Analysts applying best practices will: understand how the data were collected and implications for what variables are truly measuring; actively decide which of several measures of race is most appropriate for a study; thoughtfully collapse a large number of response categories; consider using multiple variables to create new information; and consider repeating analyses using differing measures or response categorization schemes.

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 Presented in Session P8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity