« The usefulness of AS-AD, an example | Main | A theory of the price level is a theory of inflation, but not vice versa »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Just two quick comments.

1) Metis represent a large percentage of persons self-declaring an aboriginal identity in Canada. When someone self-declares an aboriginal identity, that person is not asked if she is a visible minority.

Would metis answer "american indian" or "white" when asked about their *race*?

2) Census (2006) does use the word white :

(because you are assuming 100%)

Simon, thanks for those comments. A couple of responses.

- I said "we don't like to use the word white." We have to, because it's in the employment equity act "people.... who are non-white in colour...", but contrast the wording of the Canadian and US question - the word race isn't in the Canadian question at all. Statistics Canada doesn't use the word "white" any more than it has to - type "white" into the Statistics Canada search engine and you'll get a whole bunch of results for White Rock, BC (a beautiful place, but not what the typical searcher is looking for). The white+aboriginal numbers are reported together as the "not a visible minority" category, which many people mistakenly believe is equivalent to white.

- on Aboriginal people - someone who self-identified as Metis would probably tick both the white and the Aboriginal box. if you look at the US numbers, almost half of Aboriginal people report more than one race. This means the Canadian number I've given for "white" is more comparable to the "single race" figure for the US than the "inc. multiple races", whereas the Aboriginal (American Indian) number is more comparable to the "inc. multiple races" figure. Totally irrelevant aside: did you know that people of mixed African-American ancestry are sometimes called "Red Blacks", which is the name of the new Ottawa football team?

Simon -

On the Aboriginal question, there is bias coming from two directions. Yes, there might be some Metis who would answer "white" to question #19 if asked.

However there are probably a whole load of people with some Aboriginal heritage, who don't tick the Aboriginal box. I'm thinking, for example, of a certain economist who will happily tell anyone that he's part Cherokee. He wouldn't identify himself as Aboriginal, but he's proud that he has some American Indian heritage. Since anyone who has long deep roots in this country can probably claim some Aboriginal ancestry, I would think that there's considerable scope for underreporting of Aboriginal ancestry as a result of the exclusion of "Aboriginal" from the list of vis min categories.

In the U.S context, most whites who claim some Amerindian ancestry turn out not to when given genetic tests.

Wonks - that might be true, but remember the relationship between the Europeans and the Aboriginal population was very different in Canada and the US. Basically native Americans were sitting on quality agricultural land, and this led to a certain amount of conflict between the Europeans and native americans.

A good number of Aboriginal Canadians, on the other hand, were sitting on land that was not useful for agriculture, but was valuable for the fur trade. The Europeans didn't have the ability or the population to be able to trap, so had long-standing trading relationships with the Aboriginal people.

And when people meet and interact regularly, stuff happens.

"I would think that there's considerable scope for underreporting of Aboriginal ancestry as a result of the exclusion of "Aboriginal" from the list of vis min categories."

I dont think the the way the form is built you will see underrporting of *ancestry*.

There are three aboriginal type of questions:
Ancestry #17 (Do you have Indian blood?)
Identity #18 (Do you consider yourself an Indian?)
Band membership #20 and Registered Indian status #21 (Does the Government consider you as an Indian?)

The ancestry question (#17) is asked before the identity question (#18) and the visible minority question (#19) is only skipped if the persons reports an aboriginal identity.

Your economist would say "I'm part Cherokee" at #17
Then would say "I dont consider myself an aboriginal" #18
Then would say "I'm white" at #19.

So I dont think the ancestry part would go underreported. And I don't think that economist with a fraction of Indian blood would have reported "American Indian" as his race in the US either.

Re: the US Indians ticking more than 1 box. Did they have any other question where they were able to claim their "aboriginalness" ? If not, it may be a result of people having nowhere else to do it (and then your economist friend might have checked American indian as one of his race).

Could it just be that Aboriginals don't want to be called "Visible minorities" and that the question #19 skip is just a way of protecting these "sensibilities" ?

I mean, look at the way this part of the form is designed: "white", "black" , etc.. are mentionned.

Simon - all of this is in aid of implementing the Employment Equity Act. The EEA aims to address barriers to employment for members of four designated groups: Aboriginal Canadians, persons with disabilities, women, and members of visible minorities. Aboriginals aren't in the visible minority list because they're Aboriginal.

That 4.3% of the population number comes from the Aboriginal Identity question (#s 20 and 21) not the ancestry question (#17).

EEA exmplanation makes sense.

The identity numbers come from #18, not 17/20/21.

If we look at the aboriginal thematic tables for census 2006 (http://bit.ly/oFIRrH)

You will find
1 678 000 persons with Aboriginal Ancestry (http://bit.ly/18RJYeU) (q17)
1 172 000 persons with Aboriginal Identity (http://bit.ly/11v1vrf) (q18)
623 780 persons with Registered Indian Status (http://bit.ly/18RJYeU) (q21)


Simon - I just checked in the 2006 PUMF. The percentage of people responding that they had some Aboriginal ancestry in the ethnicity question is quite a bit higher than the percentage of people identifying themselves as Aboriginal on the Aboriginal identity question (3.8% of the pop identify on the Aboriginal identity question, as opposed to more than 5% on the ancestry question - but a lot of that 5% have a mix of Aboriginal, British, French etc heritage.

Basically the bottom line is that we don't know how Canadians would respond to the US census questions - but I still think the broad trends revealed by this exercise are quite interesting.

We have a much larger Asian population and a much smaller Black population.

Canada has a larger Asian population or a higher proportion of its population is Asian? Given that the ratio of the 2 countries' population is about 10:1, I have difficulty believing that the former is true.

You can't be serious that latinos are considered more then 50% white and less then 2% aboriginal! That's almost exactly backwards.

asp - the US Census asks two questions. One is basically Hispanic yes/no. The other is race: white/black/American Indian/Asian/ etc / some other race.

Of all the people who identify themselves as Hispanic on the Hispanic question, 53% then go on to identify themselves as white on the race question.

The way census defines race, it's a matter of identity, not some objective measurable fact.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search this site

  • Google

Blog powered by Typepad