U.S. Department of Commerce
Economics and Statistics Administration
BUREAU OF THE CENSUS
An Equal Opportunity Employer
U.S. Census Bureau, the Official StatisticsTM
Race, Hispanic Origin,
Why, What, and How
Why Will Census 2000 Ask About Race,
Hispanic Origin, and Ancestry?
• People who answer the census help their
communities obtain federal funds and valuable
information for planning schools, hospitals, and roads.
Census information also helps identify areas where
residents might need services of particular interest to
certain racial or ethnic groups, such as screening for
hypertension or diabetes.
• All levels of government need information on
race, Hispanic origin, and ancestry to implement
and evaluate programs, such as the Equal
Employment Opportunity Act, Civil Rights Act,
Voting Rights Act, Public Health Act, Healthcare
Improvement Act, Job Partnership Training Act,
Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Housing Act,
Census Redistricting Data Program, and others.
• Both public and private organizations use
race, Hispanic origin, and ancestry information to
find areas where groups may need special services
and to plan and implement education, housing,
health, and other programs that address these
needs. For example, a school system might use this
information to design cultural activities that reflect
the diversity in their community. Or a business could
use it to select the mix of merchandise it will sell in
a new store.
• Everyone who answers the census is asked about
race and Hispanic origin because this information
is needed for areas as small as neighborhoods and
• The ancestry question permits people to identify
groups not listed in the race and Hispanic origin
questions, such as Dominican, Lebanese, Cambodian,
or Dutch. Ancestry is asked only on the long form — the
longer questionnaire that goes out to one in six households. This
sample is large enough to produce reliable information for all but
the smallest areas.
U.S. Census Bureau, the Official Sta