Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Two or More Races

Here's an odd one for you. See the graphic and below we'll explore that sudden drop. The data is based on the number of students at UGA (undergrad and grad) who listed themselves as "two or more races" from Fall 2000 to Fall 2015 (the last data available).

We see the steady increase from 2000 to 2007-8 and then a sudden, stunning drop in 2009. Here are some possible explanations:

    • The Great Recession decreased all students in Fall 2009. Except this isn't the case. There were 34,180 students in Fall 2008, 34,885 in Fall 2009. So it's not a function of the number of students decreasing.
    • Students who listed two races were hit hardest by the recession and fewer attended UGA that year. Possible. I have no data either way, but it's a plausible hypothesis that needs testing.
    • More listed themselves in other racial categories that year. Except this isn't the case either. There's an increase of 185 in the "Black of African American" category from '08 to '09, so this may explain some, but not all, of it.
    • The questionnaire or admissions instrument changed. I don't have access to this, but what's truly odd is the steady, dramatic increase from a low in 2009 to 2015. My gut says something changed in how students click a box, but I have no evidence of this one way or the other.
    • One unimportant change between '08 and '09 is the addition of a category for "Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander." That played no role with only five listed in '09.

These are the statistical quirks that deserve a much closer look, if I was so motivated. There's no news story here, but there probably was one back in 2009.

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