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Race (U.S. Census)

(Redirected from African American (U.S. Census))

The United States Census Bureau uses the federal government's definitions of race when performing a census. These definitions have and may change between each census.

The racial categories are officially described as follows:¹

The categories represent a social-political construct designed for collecting data on the race and ethnicity of broad population groups in this country, and are not anthropologically or scientifically based.
Furthermore, the race categories include both racial and national-origin groups.


Racial classification in the 2000 census was based solely on self-identification and, for the first time, did not pre-suppose disjointness:

The question on race asked respondents to report the race or races they considered themselves to be. Both questions are based on self-identification.

Nearly seven million Americans identified themselves as members of more than one race in the 2000 census.

For the 2000 census the Census Bureau considers race to be separate from Hispanic origin.

Because of changes to definitions, the Census Bureau issued the following warning:

The question on race for Census 2000 was different from the one for the 1990 census in several ways. Most significantly, respondents were given the option of selecting one or more race categories to indicate their racial identities. Because of these changes, the Census 2000 data on race are not directly comparable with data from the 1990 census or earlier censuses. Caution must be used when interpreting changes in the racial composition of the U.S. population over time.


The following definitions apply to the 2000 census only.


  1. The same language has been used for many years. See for example:


Last updated: 07-31-2005 16:51:46
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