Who Chooses to Choose Two? Multiracial Identity of Children with Parents of Different Races

Sonya Tafoya, Pew Hispanic Center
Hans Johnson, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Laura Hill, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

Prior to the 2000 Census, researchers estimated that the size of the multiracial population could range between 3.1 and 6.6 percent. However, many fewer (2.4 percent) identified as multiracial, and those that did are younger than the population as a whole. For those who are identified as black/white and Asian/white, median ages are extremely low: 9 and 18, respectively. Thus, for a large number of multiracial Americans, parents assign racial identity. In this paper, we focus on the children who would be most likely to be identified as multiracial: children with parents of different races. We use the 1 percent PUMS from the 2000 census, restrict our analysis to children living in two parent families, and ask the following questions. To what extent do parents of different races identify their children as multiracial? Do patterns of multiracial reporting depend on the specific race of each parent? Are the socioeconomic characteristics of the family relevant?

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Presented in Session 27: Racial Identification among Mixed Heritage Americans