Pacific Islander American Identity: The Racial Identification of People of Pacific Island Heritage

Sela V. Panapasa, University of Michigan
Claudette E. Bennett, U.S. Census Bureau

Prior to the establishment of the new guidelines for measuring race and ethnicity by the Office of Management and Budget, Pacific Islanders (Pis) have typically been aggregated with Asian Americans creating measurement problems due to the high level of heterogeneity within this category. Despite the rapidly changing demographic and socioeconomic impact of Pis relative to their population size, very little is understood about this group. According to the 2000 US Census a high proportion of the Pacific Islander population reported more than one race. Also, it was the only race where the number of respondents reporting two or more races was higher than the number reporting a single race. The paper analyzes the Pacific Island population using data from the 2000 US Census to determine how PIs identified themselves based on parental identification, ancestry, residential and language use. Logistic regression analysis is used to predict the racial identification of PIs of mixed race.

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Presented in Session 27: Racial Identification among Mixed Heritage Americans