Population Research and Policy Review 21: 91–107, 2002.
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
An evaluation of bridging methods using race data from Census
ELIZABETH M. GRIECO
Migration Policy Institute, Washington, DC, USA
Abstract. The question on race from Census 2000 was different from previous censuses
because it allowed respondents to select one or more races to indicate their racial identities.
Because of this change, the race data from Census 2000 are not directly comparable with data
from earlier censuses. Researchers can use ‘bridging’ methods to assign more than one race
respondents to single race categories to maximize the comparability of Census 2000 race data
with earlier censuses. This paper uses several bridging methods to generate race population
estimates and analyzes the variability in those estimates across six single race groups.
Keywords: Bridging Methods, Census 2000, Race
In response to legislative, programmatic, and administrative requirements of
the federal government, the Ofﬁce of Management and Budget (OMB) in
1977 issued Statistical Policy Directive Number 15, Race and Ethnic Stand-
ards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting (OMB 1977). In
these standards, four mutually exclusive single race categories were estab-
lished: White, Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Asian or Paciﬁc
Islander. In addition, the standards established two ethnicity categories: His-
panic origin and Not of Hispanic origin. Because Directive 15 deﬁned race
and Hispanic origin as separate and distinct concepts, Hispanics could be of
any race. These guidelines represented the ﬁrst federal government standard
for the collection and presentation of race and ethnic data, deﬁning a min-
imum number of categories to be used by all federal data collection systems.
The U.S. Census Bureau used these standards to collect and report data for
both the 1980 and 1990 censuses.
This research was completed while the author was employed by the U.S. Census Bureau.
This paper reports the results of research and analysis undertaken by Census Bureau Staff. It
has undergone a more limited review than other Census Bureau publications. The views ex-
pressed are attributable to the author and do not necessarily reﬂect those of the Census Bureau.
The report is released to inform interested parties of research and to encourage discussion. An
earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2001 Southern Demographic Association
meetings in Miami, Florida.