Measurement Uncertainty in Racial and Ethnic Identification Among Adolescents of Mixed Ancestry: A Latent Variable Approach

Year Published: 2010

Authors: Tracy, A.J., Erkut, S., Porche, M.V., Kim, J., Charmaraman, L., Grossman, J.M., Ceder, I., & Vázquez Garcia, H.

Source: Structural Equation Modeling, 17(1), 11-133. NIHMSID 277208

Abstract: In this article, we operationalize identification of mixed racial and ethnic ancestry among adolescents as a latent variable to (a) account for measurement uncertainty, and (b) compare alternative wording formats for racial and ethnic self-categorization in surveys. Two latent variable models were fit to multiple mixed-ancestry indicator data from 1,738 adolescents in New England. The first, a mixture factor model, accounts for the zero-inflated mixture distribution underlying mixed-ancestry identification. Alternatively, a latent class model allows classification distinction between relatively ambiguous versus unambiguous mixed-ancestry responses. Comparison of individual indicators reveals that the Census 2000 survey version estimates higher prevalence of mixed ancestry but is less sensitive to relative certainty of identification than are alternate survey versions (i.e., offering a “mixed” check box option, allowing a written response). Ease of coding and missing data are also considered in discussing the relative merit of individual mixed-ancestry indicators among adolescents.

DOI: 10.1080/10705510903439094