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Public Health Rep. 2004 Mar-Apr; 119(2): 192–205.
PMCID: PMC1497618

Bridging between two standards for collecting information on race and ethnicity: an application to Census 2000 and vital rates.


OBJECTIVES: The 2000 Census, which provides denominators used in calculating vital statistics and other rates, allowed multiple-race responses. Many other data systems that provide numerators used in calculating rates collect only single-race data. Bridging is needed to make the numerators and denominators comparable. This report describes and evaluates the method used by the National Center for Health Statistics to bridge multiple-race responses obtained from Census 2000 to single-race categories, creating single-race population estimates that are available to the public. METHODS: The authors fitted logistic regression models to multiple-race data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for 1997-2000. These fitted models, and two bridging methods previously suggested by the Office of Management and Budget, were applied to the public-use Census Modified Race Data Summary file to create single-race population estimates for the U.S. The authors also compared death rates for single-race groups calculated using these three approaches. RESULTS: Parameter estimates differed between the NHIS models for the multiple-race groups. For example, as the percentage of multiple-race respondents in a county increased, the likelihood of stating black as a primary race increased among black/white respondents but decreased among American Indian or Alaska Native/black respondents. The inclusion of county-level contextual variables in the regression models as well as the underlying demographic differences across states led to variation in allocation percentages; for example, the allocation of black/white respondents to single-race white ranged from nearly zero to more than 50% across states. Death rates calculated using bridging via the NHIS models were similar to those calculated using other methods, except for the American Indian/Alaska Native group, which included a large proportion of multiple-race reporters. CONCLUSION: Many data systems do not currently allow multiple-race reporting. When such data systems are used with Census counts to produce race-specific rates, bridging methods that incorporate geographic and demographic factors may lead to better rates than methods that do not consider such factors.

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Selected References

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