Estimating the stability of census-based racial/ethnic classifications: The case of Brazil

José Alberto Magno de Carvalho, Charles H. Wood, Flávia Cristina, Drumond Andrade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study presents a method of estimating the degree to which people change their racial/ethnic identity from one census enumeration to another The technique is applied to the classification of skin colour in Brazil (white, black, brown, yellow). For the period 1950-80, the findings show a deficit of 38 per cent in the black category and a gain of 34 per cent in the brown category, suggesting that a large proportion of individuals who declared themselves black in 1950 reclassified themselves as brown in 1980. Estimates for 1980-90, adjusted for the effects of international migration, reveal a similar pattern, although the magnitude of colour reclassification may have declined somewhat during the 1980s. Procedures to determine the stability of racial/ethnic identity produce data useful to recent policy initiatives that rely on demogmphic censuses to measure changes in the status of minority groups in less developed countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-343
Number of pages13
JournalPopulation Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Brazil
  • Ethnicity
  • Identity
  • International migration
  • Minority population
  • Race
  • Racial classification
  • Skin colour
  • Social exclusion
  • Stability of census racial categories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • History


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