Choosing a Race: The Effects of Proxy Reporting on the Identification of Mixed Race Children

Anthony D. Perez, University of Michigan

This paper examines the effects of household roster reporting on the distribution of racial identities among children of mixed race backgrounds. Though previous studies have examined links between family characteristics and patterns of racial identification among multiracial youth, the impact of proxy reporting, i.e., having a single household “lister” identify the race of multiple family members, has been left unexamined. Using recent CPS data, I find that multiracial children are far more likely to be identified with the race of the listing parent relative to the non-listing parent. Children living in households in which the non-white parent supplies the race of the child are two thirds more likely to be identified as non-white relative to children who whose race is supplied by their white parent. These patterns persist across a variety of interracial households, though the character and magnitude of the “proxy effect” varies by racial component groups.

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Presented in Session 119: Alternative Measurement of Race and Ethnicity