The value and interpretation of race and ethnicity data in the era of global migration: a change is in order Journal Article uri icon

abstract

  • Human migration and travel are leading to increasingly diverse populations throughout the world. Data collection practices need to adapt to these changes to expand our understanding of health disparities and to optimize the efforts to address health equity, particularly during public health emergencies such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Race and ethnicity classifications in the United States have failed to evolve since the 1970s despite an increasingly diverse population. Current commonly collected categories are inadequate to accurately describe the economic, educational, and sociopolitical circumstances of different groups. Further, these categories lend little practical information to inform health policy. More predictive and actionable variables should be routinely collected to improve appropriateness and timeliness of health interventions. The immediate adoption of the collection of primary/preferred language and country of birth/origin by public health organizations, health systems, and clinical providers would be a concrete and valuable first step.

Link to Article

publication date

  • 2021