Assessing Shifting Racial Boundaries: Racial Classification of Biracial Asian Children in the 2000 Census

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Virginia Tech


This study examined the racial identification of biracial Asian children by their parents, in a sample (N=9,513) drawn from 2000 Public Use Microdata Series Census data (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series 2009). I used competing theories of Asian assimilation to examine how characteristics of the child, the Asian parent, the non-Asian parent, and the local Asian community influenced the likelihood of a child's being identified as Asian, non-Asian, or biracial. Findings showed that child's, both parents', and community characteristics significantly influenced the child's racial classification. While the effects of greater assimilation significantly increased the likelihood of an Asian classification for third-generation children, in contrast, it decreased the likelihood of an Asian identification for first- and second-generation children. Findings showed that children with a black parent were less likely than children with a white parent to be identified as Asian instead of non-Asian. However, inconsistent with past findings, children with a Hispanic parent were more likely than those with a white parent to be identified as Asian rather than non-Asian. Exploratory analyses concerning a biracial classification indicate significant relationships with factors previously found to increase the likelihood of an Asian identification, including the effects of greater Asian assimilation and size of the local Asian community. Moreover, the relationship between parent's and child's gender on the child's racial classification may be more complicated than previously theorized, as I found evidence of "gender-matching" which meant that boys were more likely to be identified like their fathers, and girls more like their mothers.



assimilation, biracial, Asian, racial classification