Why do some studies use a different set of race and ethnicity terms?
Whenever possible, the Pathways Clearinghouse follows federal standards for classifying data on race and ethnicity. For some studies—in particular, studies published before 2000—Pathways Clearinghouse uses earlier classifications of race and ethnicity to be consistent with how studies tended to report this information at the time. Pathways Clearinghouse may use either set of race and ethnicity terms, depending largely on when a study was published. There are three key differences between the two classification systems:
- Some earlier studies asked individuals to select both their ethnicity (Hispanic) and their race (White, Black, Asian, and so on). In practice, this means that, in these older studies, an individual who self-identifies as both Hispanic and White could be identified in the data as both Hispanic and White. By comparison, under current standards the same individual would be identified only as “Hispanic or Latino”.
- The language used to describe certain racial classifications has shifted over time. For example, some earlier studies might use the term , whereas later studies use Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
- For some earlier studies, Pathways Clearinghouse combined into a single category (1) the cases in which race was unknown or not reported by the study author, and (2) cases in which another category was used that is not aligned with the Pathways Clearinghouse categories. For example, a study author might present a population that is 40 percent White, 40 percent Black, 10 percent Middle Eastern or North African (MENA), and 10 percent unknown. In this scenario, the authors use a race classification, MENA, that is not clearly aligned with a category in the current federal standards. If this study was described using the older race and ethnicity classifications, then the Pathways Clearinghouse would combine the percentage of individuals who identified as MENA with those whose race was unknown, reporting that the study sample was 40 percent White, 40 percent Black, and 20 percent unknown, not reported, or another race. If the study sample were described using the current standards, by contrast, the Pathways Clearinghouse would classify the sample as 40 percent White, 40 percent Black, 10 percent another race, and 10 percent unknown or not reported. The move towards disaggregation is intended to provide practitioners with the most complete information about the demographics of the population served by a given intervention.