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The Racial Identification of Biracial Children with One Asian Parent: Evidence from the 1990 Census

Publication Abstract

Xie, Yu, and Kimberly Goyette. 1997. "The Racial Identification of Biracial Children with One Asian Parent: Evidence from the 1990 Census." Social Forces, 76(2): 547-570.

This paper examines the socioeconomic and demographic correlates that are associated with whether biracial children with an Asian parent are racially identified with their Asian parent or with their non-Asian parent. With data extracted from the 5 percent Public Use Microdata Sample of the 1990 Census, we take into account explanatory variables at three levels: child's characteristics, parents characteristics, and locale's racial composition. Our results indicate that the racial identification of biracial children with an Asian parent is to a large extent an arbitrary option within today's prevailing racial classification scheme. We find empirical evidence in support of the theoretical proposition that both assimilation and awareness of Asian heritage affect the racial identification of biracial children with an Asian parent. Of particular interest is our new finding that the Asian parent's education increases the likelihood of Asian identification only for third-generation children. In general, we find demographic factors, such as the Asian parent's ethnicity, to play a far more important role than socioeconomic factors approximating assimilation and awareness processes. In light of these results, we advance the thesis that, like ethnic options among whites, racial options are available for the racial identification of biracial children with an Asian parent.

Dataset(s): Census: U.S., 1990.

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