04/07/2014 06:25 pm ET Updated Apr 07, 2014

Hispanics More Likely To Write In Race On Census, Study Shows

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It seems Hispanics are thinking outside the box -- especially when it comes to race.

A U.S. Census report released in late March showed that of the more than 47 million self-identified Hispanics in the United States, one in three chose to write in their race on the 2010 census form.

On the form, individuals are asked to check a box under the question "What is Person 1's race?" The choices include "White," "Black, African American or Negro," "American Indian or Alaska Native," "Pacific Islander," and a variety of options for Asian descendants.

A separate question asks whether an individual is of Hispanic origin. According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, "Hispanic" is currently the only ethnic category in the census and was first implemented in 1980.

The new Census report, however, revealed that among those 47.4 million self-identified Hispanics, almost 16 million chose to write in their race next to the "some other race" option, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Among them, 44.3 percent gave their race as Mexican, Mexican American or Mexico, and 22.7 percent wrote in Hispanic, Hispana or Hispano. Another 10 percent identified as Latin American, Latino or Latin.

Hispanics weren't the only group to write in their race for the 2010 Census, though they were the most likely to use the "some other race" option.

The new data adds to the ongoing debate over Latino identity. In April 2012, a Pew Hispanic Center study found that 51 percent of Hispanics use their family's country of origin to describe their identity, while only 24 percent use "Hispanic/Latino" and 21 percent use the term "American."

The same study showed that the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" are used interchangeably by the majority of the ethnic group. Individuals who did have a preference tended to use "Hispanic" (33 percent) over "Latino" (14 percent).

In October 2013, a second Pew study confirmed the previous findings and noted that there was a striking exception when it came to Texas, where 46 percent prefer the term "Hispanic" while only 8 percent prefer "Latino."



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