Race, Ethnicity & Nationality

Race, Ethnicity & Nationality


Young Women Race, Ethnicity & Nationality Variables


Important Information

Self-reported race questions provide very different answers than race determined by the interviewer. Because of this difference, most national surveys now ask the respondent to classify their own race.

One race variable (R00032.00) is available for each respondent. 'Race' is a three-category variable ("black," "white," and "other") available only for the respondent and, in general, is derived from the household screening. According to the Current Population Survey Interviewer's Reference Manual (Census 1962) in use at the time of the screening, race was to be determined by interviewer observation. Interviewers were instructed to code Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and other Latin Americans as "white" unless they were obviously of another race and were to include respondents of Japanese, Chinese, American Indian, Korean, Hindu, Eskimo, etc., heritage in the "other" category. At the time of the first survey, race information for each respondent was manually transferred to the questionnaire from data entered on the Household Record Cards during the 1966 household screening. (Only in the case of the creation of a new household, where a respondent had moved out of the household in which she was living at the time of the screening, would the interviewer fill out a new Household Record Card, in which case all household member information would be newly recorded.) Table YW1 presents a distribution of race by nationality.

Table YW1. Number of Respondents by Race and Nationality

Nationality Total White Black Other
Total 5159 3638 1459 62
U.S. or Canada1 3856 2427 1413 16
North or West Europe 483 479 2 2
Central or East Europe 274 273 0 1
South Europe 232 225 3 4
Latin America 118 109 5 4
Other 65 23 11 31
NA 131 102 25 4
Note: This table is based on R00032.00 and R00786.00.
1 The U.S. and Canada category appears overrepresented because nationality was based on birthplace of parents and grandparents (i.e., this category includes all respondents whose parents and grandparents were born in the U.S. or Canada).


The variable 'Nationality of R' (R00786.00), created in 1968, is available for each respondent. The nationality of respondents was derived from the first parent or grandparent born outside of the U.S. and Canada using the following decision rules: if the father was born outside of the U.S. and Canada, his nationality was assigned to the respondent; if he was born inside the U.S. and Canada but the respondent's mother was not, her nationality was assigned; and so forth. Categories include U.S. or Canada, North or West Europe, Central or East Europe, South Europe, Latin America, and other; there are no separate categories for Asian or African countries. Specific countries in each category are not listed in the codebook with the nationality variable but are included in Table YW2.

Table YW2. Country Codes for the Nationality Variables

Coding Category Countries
North or West Europe Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland (Eire), Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales
Central or East Europe Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia
South Europe Andorra, Azores, Gibraltar, Gozo, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Trieste, Vatican City
Latin America Mexico, Central American countries, South American countries

A single question fielded in 1993 asked each respondent for information on her origin or descent. Thirty-one ethnicity coding categories (e.g., Chinese, Dutch, Mexican-American, Portuguese, etc.) were provided with instructions to "mark all that apply." This question was repeated in 1995, 1997, and 1999 for respondents who had not been interviewed during any previous survey in which it was included.

Survey Instruments & Documentation: Race was recorded on Household Record Card form LGT-1, used at the time of the 1966 screening and the initial interview, and was manually transferred to the first page of the 1968 questionnaire. Birthplace was recorded in the Family Background section of the 1968 questionnaire. The 1993 ethnicity question can be found in the Marital History, Fertility, and Other Family Background section; it is included in the Other Family Background section in 1995-1999. The codebook contains information on the specific derivation of the nationality variable.


Census Bureau. "Current Population Survey and Housing Vacancy Survey: Interviewer's Reference Manual." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1962.