According to a new Census report released last week, about one-third of the 47.4 million self-identified Hispanics chose “some other race” when describing their racial identity. Among them, 44.3% wrote in Mexican, Mexican American or Mexico in the box provided. An additional 22.7% wrote in Hispanic or Hispano or Hispana as their race and another 10.0% wrote in Latin American or Latino or Latin.
Latinos are not the only group of Americans who utilize the “some other race” category on the census form—but they are the most likely to do so. In 2010, 6.2% of Americans selected “some other race,” up from 5.5% in 2000. Among all those who answered the race question this way in 2010, 96.8% were Hispanic, little changed from 2000. In addition to the race question, the 2010 census included a separate question about Hispanic origin. It is currently the only ethnic category included in the census and has been asked of all households on census forms since 1980.The new Census Bureau report also detailed “some other race” responses by Hispanic origin groups. About 43.4% of Guatemalan origin Hispanics selected the category, as did 42.9% of Salvadorans and 37.7% of Hondurans, the three highest shares among Hispanic origin groups. By contrast, just 5.2% of Cubans, 8.1% of Argentineans and 8.9% of Uruguayans selected “some other race.”
These findings are consistent with Pew Research Center surveys on Latinos and their views of their identity. Most prefer to be identified by their country of origin, such as Mexican, Dominican or Guatemalan. When it comes to reporting their race, about half of Latinos in our surveys choose “some other race” or volunteer “Hispanic or Latino” as their race. Latinos also largely express no preference for the pan-ethnic terms “Hispanic” or “Latino.” But among those with a preference, “Hispanic” is preferred over “Latino” by a two-to-one margin.
The “some other race” option in the census form’s race question was never intended to be a category selected by so many respondents. The category was added to the 1980 census form to capture the small numbers of people who did not select one of the official race categories. But since then, it has grown to become the third-largest race category in the census.