Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 125–144 | Cite as

Identifying race and ethnicity in the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth

  • Audrey LightEmail author
  • Alita Nandi


The 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth is among the few surveys to provide multiple reports on respondents’ race and ethnicity. Respondents were initially classified as Hispanic, black, or “other” on the basis of data collected during 1978 screener interviews. Respondents subsequently self-reported their “origin or descent” in 1979, and their race and Hispanic origin in 2002; the latter questions conform to the federal standards adopted in 1997 and used in the 2000 census. We use these data to (a) assess the size and nature of the multiracial population, (b) measure the degree of consistency among these alternative race-related variables, and (c) devise a number of alternative race/ethnicity taxonomies and determine which does the best job of explaining variation in log-wages. A key finding is that the explanatory power of race and ethnicity variables improves considerably when we cross-classify respondents by race and Hispanic origin. Little information is lost when multiracial respondents are assigned to one of their reported race categories because they make up only 1.3% of the sample.


Race Ethnicity Multiracial Population 



We thank Rosella Gardecki, Steve McClaskie, and Karima Nagi for valuable input.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Center for Human Resource ResearchThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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