The NHIS has collected respondent-reported race and Hispanic origin data on the survey since 1976, and has allowed respondents to the survey to indicate more than one race since that time, although this information was collected only for adults from 1976 through 1981 (3). Beginning in 1982 through the present, race and Hispanic origin data have been collected for household members of all ages. Interviewer-observed race was also collected for survey respondents from 1975-1996, and proxy reporting of race by the household respondent has occurred over the course of the NHIS’ history of collecting race and Hispanic origin data. Over time, there has also been considerable variation in the way that race and Hispanic origin questions have been asked in the survey, as well as variation in the placement of the questions in the questionnaire. Currently, the NHIS contains two questions on Hispanic origin (whether or not the respondent is Hispanic/Latino, and if so, the type of Hispanic/Latino origin) and two questions on race (race group(s) reported by the respondent, and if more than one, which group the respondent considers to be the one that best describes the person).
See the section on Historical Context for a complete history of race and ethnicity data collection in the NHIS, including information about race and Hispanic origin question wording, placement, and data collection procedures for 1975-2006.
The draft 2006 race and Hispanic origin questions are located in the Household Composition pdf icon[PDF – 265 KB] section of the NHIS, beginning with question number HHC.170.