Methodological Issues in Quantitative Research on Race and Ethnicity


  • Mosi A. Ifatunji, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Social statistics were developed - in large part - to measure and study race and racialized population groups. Amidst the great eugenics debates of the early 20th century, interest in social statistics grew exponentially as social scientists sought to demarcate racial groups and to assess differences between human population groups so specified. Although interest in social statistics was initially closely tethered to the study of race and social stratification; today, most social scientists study these topics separately. As a result, best practices in social statistics are often blind to race and ethnicity and students of race and ethnicity are often uninterested in statistics. This course will develop quantitative researchers that give greater, more careful and keen consideration to how race and ethnicity fit in their statistical models and race and ethnicity scholars with a greater ability to understand, critique and use quantitative methods. In order to achieve these goals, the course is mostly conceptual and participants are strongly recommended to have had one of each of the following courses prior to attendance: a basic course in race and ethnicity, a graduate level course in research methods and a graduate level course in social statistics.

The course will cover four broad topic areas of particular interest to social scientists, interested in race, ethnicity and statistics. The first week lays the groundwork for the course by focusing on key concepts and includes a special session on race, ethnicity and research ethics. The week explores foundational concepts including: race, ethnicity, racialization, ethnogenesis, inequality, stratification, prejudice, discrimination and ethnoracial orders. Week two focuses on measurement and operationalization. Topics include: measuring race and ethnicity, operationalizing race and ethnicity in multivariate models, measuring group disparities, measuring prejudice and measuring discrimination. Week three covers research design and data collection strategies. Topics include: questionnaire design, sampling and social survey methods, and experimental and quasi-experimental methods. This week will also include a review of newer emerging methods - i.e., big data and agent-based models. The course will conclude with a detailed focus on statistical analysis and inference. The final week reviews practical strategies for appropriately assessing race and/or ethnic 'effects' across a range of statistical methodologies - e.g., statistical interactions, multivariate decomposition, propensity score analysis and structural equation models. It also introduces datasets that are mindful of many of the issues covered in the course and available at ICPSR.

For those interested in a more focused study of quantitative methodologies, participants are encouraged to dual enroll in one of the many training courses offered at the ICPSR Summer Program. For more information, including a detailed course description, please send email to:

For more information on the workshop, see the Extended Course Description .

Fees: Consult the fee structure.

Tags: race, ethnicity, ethnoraciality, ethnogenesis, discrimination, inequality, stratification, racial order, research design, data collection, measurement, operationalization, statistical inference

Course Sections

Section 1

Location: ICPSR -- Ann Arbor, MI

Date(s): June 22 - July 17

Time: 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM


  • Mosi A. Ifatunji, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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