Some Practical Guidelines for Measuring Youth's Race/Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status

Authors


  • List of advisors: Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Chapin Hall Center for Children, and Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago; Andrew J. Cherlin, Johns Hopkins University. Jorge del Pinal, Spanish and Ethnic Statistics Branch, Bureau of the Census; Greg J. Duncan, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan; Roderick J. Harrison, Racial Statistics Branch, Bureau of the Census; Robert M. Hauser, Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin—Madison; Donald J. Hernandez, Marriage and Family Statistics Branch, Bureau of the Census; Kenneth Hill, Population Dynamics, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health; James McCarthy, Center for Population and Family Health, Columbia University School of Public Health; Frank Mott, National Longitudinal Study of Youth, Ohio State University; Constance Nathanson, Population Dynamics, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health; Robert Schoen, Population Dynamics, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health; Tom W. Smith, General Social Survey, National Opinion Research Center; Edward J. Welniak, Income Statistics Branch, Bureau of the Census. We are especially grateful to 13 anonymous referees for their suggestions and comments.

Reprint requests should be sent to Dr. Doris R. Entwisle, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218.

Abstract

This short paper provides some guidelines to help researchers in child and adolescent development procure the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic information that will best determine how to assign youngsters to ethnic or SES groups. These guidelines are necessarily general. They will need to be adapted thoughtfully by each investigator because, as is generally true, how to define a measure depends intimately on the nature of the research problem. In preparing these guidelines, we have taken into account current practice at the Bureau of the Census, research traditions developed by sociologists who have mainly been concerned with adults, and challenges posed by the changing character of the U.S. population and its family forms. We are extremely grateful to the many social scientists listed below who have contributed so generously to our thinking, but especially to Robert Hauser. Naturally, any errors or opacities that remain are our responsibility.

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