Franklin Raines, director of the U.S. government’s Office of Management and Budget, announced Wednesday that the next U.S. census will not include a “multi-racial” category. Respondents will instead be allowed to check all the racial categories that make up their heritage. OMB officials believe that this change, along with the creation of new racial categories and the reclassification of others, will result in a more specific and accurate analysis of the U.S. population.
Past census questionnaires allowed respondents to list only one racial category. Growing numbers of mixed-race citizens prompted government officials to change this policy. The number of children in bi- or multi-racial families increased over 4 times from 1970 to 1990, from less than 500,000 to 2 million children.
The OMB’s new policies will govern the census of 2000 and will be used in all federal statistical programs by 2003. Census statistics are used to determine district seats in Congress and legislatures and to verify enforcement of civil rights measures. The statistics are also used widely by private and public researchers to measure social and economic patterns.