Assessment of Major Federal Data Sets for Analyses of Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander Subgroups and Native Americans: Inventory of Selected Existing Federal Databases. Census 2000


Sponsoring agency

Bureau of the Census
Department of Commerce

Reference date

April 2000


The decennial census is the oldest data collection effort in the United States. Initiated in 1790, and conducted thereafter at 10-year intervals in the year ending in zero, Census 2000 will be the 22nd decennial census. In addition to providing a "snapshot" of the United States, the decennial census provides information at all levels of geography, from the large to the small, ranging from political entities such as states, counties, cities, and local governments, to small areas such as blocks and tracts. The availability of results from past censuses provides historical series for a variety of characteristics, including race/ethnicity, which can be examined and analyzed over time, with allowance for differences in definitions and reporting. Decennial census results (sometimes adjusted for census undercount) either directly or extrapolated to post-census time periods also serve as denominators in the calculation of important social and economic indicators, such as birth and death rates, incidence rates for diseases, and crime rates. The data also are used in the design of population surveys and in adjusting survey results to known population parameters.

For the most part, the decennial effort is collected through self-enumeration. The basic Census 2000 form (short form) to be filled out for each person in the nation as of April 2000, including the institutionalized population and the resident armed forces, will collect information on only seven subjects, including Hispanic origin and race. The Census long-form, to be completed by about 1 household in 6, includes a wide variety of additional questions on the social and economic status of the population. The results from the long-form will begin to become available in 2002.


The race/ethnicity questions in Census 2000 reflect the results of extensive research and testing to develop new standards for collecting, tabulating, and presenting data on race and ethnicity. Census 2000 is one of the first activities to reflect this effort. The standards, when adopted fully, will be incorporated in virtually all surveys or data collection efforts supported by the Federal statistical system, beginning early in the next decade.

The specific questions and responses are as follows:

  • Is Person - Spanish/Hispanic/Latino?
    Mark (X) the "NO" box if not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino
    [ ] No, not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino [ ] Yes, Puerto Rican
    [ ] Yes, Mexican, Mexican-Am., Chicano [ ] Yes, Cuban
    [ ] Yes, other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino-Print group  



  • What is Person's race? Mark [X] one or more races to indicate what this person considers himself/herself to be.
    [ ]White
    [ ] Black, African-Am., or Negro
    [ ] American Indian or Alaska Native—Print name of enrolled or principal tribe

    [ ] Asian Indian [ ] Japanese [ ] Native Hawaiian
    [ ] Chinese [ ] Korean [ ] Guamanian or Chamorro
    [ ] Filipino [ ] Vietnamese [ ] Samoan
    [ ] Other Asian—Print race   [ ] Other Pacific Islander—Print race

    [ ] Some other race


Interviewing policy

As the Nation's oldest data gathering organization, the Census Bureau has long experience in interviewing non-English speaking respondents. The decennial census makes special efforts to hire indigenous interviewers, especially so in areas containing large numbers of non-English speaking respondents. Where a bilingual interviewer is not immediately available and another family member is unable to bridge the language gap, a callback visit is scheduled and the required language skill is located and made available. Partnerships also are established with the local community and with public interest groups in order to ensure the availability of the needed language skills, and to obtain assistance in seeking public cooperation in responding to the census. As in recent censuses, the public will be urged to call if they require assistance. To the extent possible, the Bureau plans to meet such needs, both through its own staff and through the efforts of the local community; the extent of the effort is still in development.

Census questionnaires will be available in five languages other than English--that is, in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese--and will be provided if requested. In addition, questionnaire assistance booklets will be available in over 30 languages.

Sample size

The decennial census covers the total population resident in the United States as of April 1, 2000. The sample sizes shown in Appendix Tables A-1 to A-3 refer to the respective populations included in the long-form sample.

Publications of data for Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans

A wide variety of detailed data will be available from the long-form, including extensive detail for the Hispanic population and subpopulations, for each of the Asian and Pacific Islander populations, and for American Indians or Alaska Natives. The amount of detail, of course, will be more limited for smaller geographic entities, such as towns or rural areas, because the small sample sizes may preclude presenting data, either for the group as a whole or for its components, with sufficient reliability. At the time of publication, Census 2000 will provide the most timely and most extensive national and small area information available for the populations of interest, with regard to demographic and socio-economic characteristics.

As in past censuses, public use micro-record files will be available. Following past practice, they should contain the full race/ethnic detail, including subpopulation identification for both Hispanics and Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Revised race/ethnic definitions

Census 2000 will utilize the revised race/ethnic definitions, consistent with the new OMB standards for collecting and presenting race/ethnic data.

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