JUDITH MORRISON Race and Ethnicity by the Numbers
Data collection is a public-sector
needs of their local communities.
This is important because, without
the community-level survey, the
estimated 2,000 Afro-Paraguayans
would remain largely invisible today.
A similar local initiative took place in the
northern region of Arica, Chile, with the
NGO Lumbanga. This initiative has led
to the recognition of Arica as a cultural
heritage tourism destination, and has
been used as the basis for several new books
on the history of local Afro-Chilean families.
New information on skin color, race and ethnicity
throughout the region is being gathered by Princeton
University’s Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin
America (PERLA), led by Edward Telles. The project
uses household surveys to analyze race, ethnicity and
socioeconomic conditions along with the data available
from almost 40,000 respondents in 23 countries through
the AmericasBarometer survey. The PERLA process
involves academic researchers from the region and
civil society counterparts. Initial research findings
demonstrate that skin color is an important determinant
of educational achievement in the region.
responsibility to be undertaken
with the participation of partners
MAKING DATA COLLECTION
A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT
Household surveys are dependent on the qual- ity of initial census data collected and on ac- curate population weights. If censuses and survey samples severely underestimate ra- cial or ethnic populations, vital data will
not be collected for these groups.
In order to improve the quality of sampling at the
household survey level, national governments should
allow for sufficient funding, time and technical assistance to conduct periodic census exercises in the most
efficient and thorough manner possible.
Data collection is a public sector responsibility that
needs to be undertaken with the participation and involvement of partners throughout society. Leaders of
social movements and community organizations in
Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities are important partners for improving the quality of initial
data collection thorough local outreach and buy-in.
The first step in getting a more accurate picture
of these populations is working with their communi-
ties. The involvement of local organizations and lead-
ers increases the levels of self-identification—especially
because there is still a strong social stigma associated
with identifying as Afro-descendant or Indigenous.
Moreover, making information from data collection
readily available to these communities—for example
electronically—increases the transparency of the pro-
cess and the level of participation by local communi-
ties, and can lead to increased participation in future
data collection exercises.
Judith Morrison serves as the senior advisor in the
Gender and Diversity Division of the Vice Presidency
for Sectors at the Inter-American Development Bank.
FOR SOURCE CI TATIONS AND A VIDEO IN TERVIE W WI TH THE AU THOR SEE:
129 Americas Quarterly SPRING 2012