The Working Group proposes that SPD 15 move from the two separate questions format to a single combined question as the required design for self-reported race and ethnicity information collections. Employing a new combined question design may take significant time and resources for some surveys and information collections to implement. Flexibilities should be allowed for agencies dependent on aggregate data, data that are not self-reported, or data from non-Federal providers.
Evidence suggests that the use of separate race and ethnicity questions confuses many respondents who instead understand race and ethnicity to be similar, or the same, concepts. For example, a large and increasing percentage of Hispanic or Latino respondents on the decennial census and American Community Survey (ACS) over the past several decades are either not reporting a race or are selecting Some Other Race (SOR); this is after responding to the ethnicity question, which SPD 15 requires to be collected first and separately. Decennial census and ACS research found that a combined race and ethnicity question reduces confusion and reduces SOR reporting by Hispanic or Latino respondents. However, less is known about the comparisons of separate questions versus combined question approaches for information collections without a SOR response option.