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Concepts, terminology and classifications for the “mixed” ethnic or racial group in the United Kingdom
  1. P J Aspinall
  1. Correspondence to Peter J Aspinall, Centre for Health Services Studies, University of Kent, George Allen Wing, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF, UK; peter.petjasp{at}


Background The way to categorise people born of inter-ethnic and racial unions — the “mixed” group — remains unclear and requires new insights, given the increasing size and complexity of the group and its emerging health profile.

Methods A mixed methods research study focusing on ethnic options of young “mixed race” people (n=326) recruited in colleges and universities investigated respondents' preferences with respect to concepts, terminology and classifications.

Results The overwhelming generic term of choice was mixed race, widely interpreted by respondents to include mixed minority groups. Respondents were able to assign themselves in a valid way to a 12-category extended 2001 England and Wales Census classification for “mixed”, which collapses into five main groupings and also maps back to the census categories. Among options tested for census purposes, multi-ticking performed poorly and is not recommended.

Conclusions A more finely granulated classification for “mixed” is feasible where needed, but this requires more extensive testing before it can be judged preferable to a “tick one or more” option that has been shown to have poor reproducibility in validation surveys.

  • Mixed race
  • ethnicity
  • census
  • terminology
  • classifications

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  • Funding PJ Aspinall (award holder), M Song and F Hashem. The ethnic options of “mixed race” people in Britain. ESRC Research Grant RES-000-23-1507 (£165,000).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.