Thursday, September 26, 2019

Race and the Census

Hello, I have a researcher who wants clarification as to why 'race' is not used as a variable in the Census. Also, an explanation of how the 'ethnicity' variable was developed for the Census would be helpful.


The Census Dictionary for every modern census year explains and expands on any terms and variables contained in that census.

Ethnic origin/race/ancestry/heritage/ etc are all complex terms to define and select, and is a historically evolving concept in addition to being differently measured in other census-holding countries, so there's usually links to further information from the Census Dictionary as well.

Here's the expanded info for Ethnic Origin for the 2016 Census:


Our subject matter specialist has provided the following information :

“We do not have a 'race' variable as such on the census, but we do have the visible minority variable, which is documented in the Visible Minority and Population Group Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016, available through the following link:”