One reason it is difficult to assess discrimination is that changes have occurred in the nature of prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory behaviors.
With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other laws that prohibit discrimination because of race in a variety of domains, overt discrimination is less often apparent.
Our purpose is not to report numbers or impacts but to provide guidance and encouragement to researchers and policy analysts as they work across domains to identify where discrimination may be present and what its effects may be.
In the first part of this report, the panel defines the concepts of race and racial discrimination from a social science perspective, which we believe is the appropriate perspective for research and policy analysis on discrimination.
The panel develops a cross-disciplinary research and data collection agenda for action by public and private funding agencies and the research community.
The report makes no attempt to actually measure current or past levels of discrimination in any domain.
These subtleties make defining and measuring discrimination more difficult.
The panel’s goal in this report is to review and comment on the methods used in various social scientific disciplines to identify types of racial discrimination and measure their effects.
Although researchers in specific disciplines have investigated discrimination in particular domains, there has been little effort to coordinate and expand such research in ways that could help to better understand and measure various kinds of racial and ethnic discrimination across domains and groups and over time.
To address this problem, the Committee on National Statistics convened a panel of scholars in 2001 to consider the definition of racial discrimination, assess current methodologies for measuring it, identify new approaches, and make recommendations about the best broad methodological approaches.