A growing number of people who identify as Latino or Hispanic identify as multiracial. That’s according to 2020 Census data.

KERA reporter Stella Chavez talked with Host Justin Martin about the Census findings. Here’s what she found:

What the Census data shows

57.8% of Hispanic or Latino respondents reported one race in the 2020 Census compared to more than 81% who did so in 2010.

18.6 million people reported two or more races, up from 2.6 million people in 2010.

43.6% of Hispanics either did not respond to the race question or selected “Some Other Race” and wrote in something else.

What this means

Not all Hispanic or Latinos identify with the racial categories assigned by the federal government.

If this trend leads to a different distribution of race and ethnicity across the nation, it could have political or socio-economic implications in the future, but it’s not clear that will happen.

How this compares to previous Census results

The answers mirror previous Census research that how Hispanics and Latinos identify varies, according to Jens Manuel Krogstad, senior writer and editor at the Pew Research Center.

On the Census form, respondents have to answer questions about race and ethnicity. Being Hispanic or Latino falls under the ethnicity category, but Krogstad said many people don’t see this distinction between race and ethnicity

Of the 20 million Latinos who picked two or more racial categories in the 2020 Census, nine in 10 selected “some other race” and then proceeded to pick an additional racial category. Those categories include white, Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and several others.

Why it matters

Just as Latinos are not a monolith politically, they also don’t agree on how they identify themselves.

Krogstad explained Latino or Hispanic identity isn’t static.

“Hispanic identify may change in coming years as big societal changes, like rising intermarriage rates produce an increasingly diverse and multiracial population in America,” he said. “And the dynamic nature of Latino identity in this country isn’t new. What it meant to be Latino 20 or 30 years ago is different from what it means to be Latino today, and two decades from now, Latino identity will have likely evolved again.”

How the Census Bureau plans to address the debate over Hispanic and Latino identity, which has been going on for years

The Census Bureau considered combining its question about race and ethnicity before the 2020 Census because of this debate and confusion. Some people, for example, wrote in Hispanic or Latino or Mexican as their race.

That idea didn’t go anywhere under the previous administration. The Biden administration, however, has proposed allowing respondents to select Hispanic or Latino as their race in the next Census.

Krogstad said it’s important to remember that how people answer Census questions is ultimately a personal choice.

“Hispanic or Latino identity is much more than just, you know, DNA. [For example] If you’re half or more of something, then you’re this,” he said. “It can have to do as much with culture and language as it can do with who your parents are.

And for a lot of Latinos, speaking Spanish is a very important part of their Latino identity. But there are a lot of Latinos, especially younger Latinos, who maybe don’t speak as much Spanish, but they still have a strong Latino identify. You know, it depends on the person.”