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Ch 2 Classification of race and ethnicity in the United States

How are race and ethnicity defined in the US?

In Chapter 1 of “What Pharmacists Need to Know About Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities,  we spoke about race and ethnicity as social constructs. In Chapter 2 we pivot to describe the process used by the United States government uses to develop operational definitions of race and ethnicity to be used in carrying out government activities. It starts with the US census, where data are collected every 10 years to provide information about the US population. The definitions developed for the Census must be used by all federal agencies, as well as any other organization receiving federal funds. This covers pretty much everyone doing research on health disparities.

Classification of race and ethnicity is an unsatisfying process for a reason – it is a social construct and not based in science or biology.

Here’s the infographic.

Classification of race and ethnicity

Chapter 2 infographic

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