The racial self-identification of South Asians in the United States

A. Morning

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The racial identity of South Asians has long been a subject of controversy in the United States. Their inchoate racial status translates into a variety of racial descriptors being chosen by and for South Asians. This paper uses 1990 census data to examine the socio-economic and demographic correlates of the racial self-identification choices made by household heads of Asian Indian origin, both foreign-and US-born. The results of multinomial logit analysis show that respondents who are more acculturated to the United States are more likely to describe themselves as 'Black' or 'White' than are those with less familiarity with American society. However, higher socio-economic levels are associated with a greater likelihood of self-identification as South Asian on the census race question. Finally, comparison with a sample of Asian Indian children reveals the latter's greater tendency to be identified with a race other than South Asian, due both to their more extensive mixed ancestry and their larger share of US-born respondents.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)61-79
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2001


    • Census
    • Indians
    • Logit analysis
    • Racial self-identification
    • South Asians
    • United States

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Demography
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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