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CALL FOR PAPERS: Race, Ethnicity, and Economic Statistics for the 21st Century – March 14-15, 2024

CALL FOR PAPERS: Race, Ethnicity, and Economic Statistics for the 21st Century

Washington, DC – March 14-15, 2024

To advance research on the opportunities and challenges associated with the production of meaningful and innovative statistics disaggregated by race and ethnicity, which can be used to improve economic analysis, measures of wellbeing, and inform policy design and program evaluation, the Conference on Research on Income and Wealth (CRIW) and National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) will convene a meeting on March 14-15, 2024 in Washington, DC.  The conference will be organized by  Randall Akee (UCLA), Lawrence F. Katz (Harvard University), Mark A. Loewenstein (US Bureau of Labor Statistics), and Kimberly Orozco (US Census Bureau).

This conference will provide economists, statisticians, demographers, and scholars on race and ethnicity from government, academia, business, and non-profit organizations a venue in which to discuss and explore these opportunities and challenges. Authors selected to present papers will be invited to a pre-conference scheduled for July 19, 2023. Each paper presented at the research conference will receive input and feedback from an assigned discussant.

The results of the 2020 Census illustrate the increasing racial and ethnic diversity of the US population as well as a rise in the number of people who identify as multiracial. To clearly present and analyze the complexity of the changing US population, the demographic statistics on which government officials, business decision makers, and private citizens rely likely will need to be updated. This conference will explore the production of meaningful and innovative economic statistics by race and ethnicity that accurately and appropriately depict the complex racial and ethnic diversity of the US population in the 21st century. The consequences for economic analyses of different measurement choices concerning race and ethnicity also will be a focus of the conference.

Like other statistical agencies, the Census Bureau follows standards on race and ethnicity set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These standards, which were last revised in 1997, guide how the federal government collects and presents data on race and ethnicity. For race, the OMB standards identify five minimum categories: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The Census Bureau is required by Congress to include a sixth category, Some Other Race, for people who do not identify with any of the OMB race categories. For ethnicity, the OMB standards classify individuals in one of two categories: “Hispanic or Latino” or “Not Hispanic or Latino.” To help illustrate the complex composition and dynamic diversity of the U.S. population, the Census Bureau developed a series of innovative reports and interactive data visualizations to help the public explore and analyze various measures of racial and ethnic composition and diversity measures, such as the diversity index, prevalence maps, prevalence rankings, and diffusion scores.

The organizers welcome research papers, or proposals for papers that could be completed by March 2024, on any aspect of the conference topic.  Particular issues of interest include:

•        Current and historical collection of race and ethnicity data.
•        The history and evolution of Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 and its application and challenges over the last 40 plus years.
•        Historical classification of multiracial populations and implications for the measurement and understanding of the U.S. population’s racial composition.
•        The policy for self-identification versus perceived race by enumerators and how that frames our understanding of the data we collect.
•        Challenges with the collection of data on race and/or ethnicity.
•        Gaps in the availability of data by race and/or ethnicity and options for filling those gaps.
•        Barriers to accurate tabulation of increasing racial/ethnic diversity.
•        Differences in survey coverage rates for different race/ethnicity groups and the implications for measurement.
•        Comparability of race/ethnicity data across surveys and over time.
•        The future of data on race/ethnicity and opportunities for innovative methods.
•        Methods for combining multiple data sources, whether they be carefully designed surveys or experiments or administrative data, to produce innovative statistics on race/ethnicity.
•        Challenges and opportunities of separate questions versus combined questions on race/ethnicity.
•        The future of terminology and communication of measures, such as retiring the constructs of “minority” and “majority” and introducing more informative measures and concepts, such as the “diversity index.”
•        How various definitions of race and ethnicity affect statistics of interest.
•        How the race and ethnicity definitions affect measurements of inequality in income and educational attainment.
•        The sensitivity of measures of segregation to various definitions of race and ethnicity.
•        The effect various definitions of race and ethnicity have on measures of discrimination.
•        How the collection of more detailed race/ethnic data could affect our understanding of economic and social trends.
•        Differences in the measured disparities in economic outcomes for detailed groups when they are part of a larger aggregate category and when they are disaggregated in the data.
•        How new and more disaggregated race and ethnicity identifiers impact analyses of newly arrived immigrants.

The conference organizers welcome submissions of both empirical and theoretical research, and encourage submissions from scholars who are early in their careers, who are not NBER affiliates,
and who are from groups that are under-represented in the economics profession.  Please share this call with others who may be interested in submitting a paper.

Abstracts are invited for submission to the conference organizers by 11:59pm EST on Thursday, March 16, 2023.  Please upload extended abstracts or papers here:

Extended abstracts should explain clearly what the project will study, and what data will be used.  Papers that have been accepted for publication are not eligible for consideration.  Decisions about which papers will be included on the program will be made by April 14, 2023.  Final versions of conference papers will be due approximately one month prior to the conference date.  The papers from the conference will become part of an NBER/CRIW Conference volume to be published by the University of Chicago Press. All papers will be subject to review by the editors and referees from the NBER and the University of Chicago Press.

The NBER will cover economy class travel and hotel expenses for two authors per paper and for discussants. Questions about this conference may be addressed to: