A growing body of research confirms that race and ethnicity are not fixed and do not fall into neatly established categories that are universally understood the same way by everyone.
Survey questions about race and ethnicity often mask substantial differences within groups and yield results that can make it difficult to understand and address inequities.
Understanding racialization, the process by which society attaches racial meaning to groups of people or experiences, is crucial to understanding experiences of discrimination and how they contribute to inequities in health.
Many self-identified Asian, Black, and White adults reported that others perceive them in a way that aligns with their self-identified race.
Diversity in perceived race was most pronounced for self-identified Hispanic adults and adults who self-identified as more than one race.
Researchers highlight the complex relationship between self-identified race and ethnicity and how people believe others perceive their race. They reinforce the notion that race and ethnicity are not as simple to measure as people may think. Gaining a better understanding of how people are perceived as they navigate their daily lives can help policymakers and other stakeholders identify and interrupt inequities in health
About the Urban Institute
The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.
Achieving Health Equity
As health disparities in the U.S. continue to grow, RWJF's health equity toolkit provides resources, data, and examples of communities working to achieve better health for all.