Race Making over the Decades: Racial Identification of Children of Intermarriage, 1960-2010

Carolyn A. Liebler, University of Minnesota
José Pacas, University of Minnesota

As parents describe their children in terms of race, they make decisions about who “belongs” in what group – this creates and reinforces the “boundaries” of the race group. In this paper, we study responses given for individual children of interracial marriages to understand more about society’s racial boundaries and how these have changed over half a century (1960 to 2010). Using full-count, restricted-use decennial census data, we explore the response given for young children (ages 0-9) living with parents in 15 types of interracial pairings (all pairings of six single-race groups: White, Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Some Other Race). Because our samples include all biological children of interracially married single-race parents enumerated in the censuses of 1960-2010, we make particular contributions to understanding patterns in smaller groups such as American Indians and Pacific Islanders. Also, each single-race group is represented in five interracial marriage pairings, which gives a variety of perspectives on the “rules” for how children with this race parent are reported – larger groups may have more developed norms than smaller groups. We provide descriptive information about number of young children from each type of interracial marriage, as well as the proportion of children with each racial identification. We then conduct logistic regression analyses using the few available variables in the data: age, sex, race, Hispanic (1980+) of all household members, household structure, and characteristics of others in the census tract. Many children of interracially married coresident parents are reported as single-race; in other words, the population reported as “single-race” is not all monoracial. We find variation across time and across groups. For example, families with an American Indian parent tend toward single-race responses, while families with a Pacific Islander parent tend toward multiple-race responses.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 160. Racial Identities and Meanings in Flux