Predicting Race and Ethnicity From the Sequence of Characters in a Name

by   Gaurav Sood, et al.

To answer questions about racial inequality, we often need a way to infer race and ethnicity from a name. Until now, a bulk of the focus has been on optimally exploiting the last names list provided by the Census Bureau. But there is more information in the first names, especially for African Americans. To estimate the relationship between full names and race, we exploit the Florida voter registration data and the Wikipedia data. In particular, we model the relationship between the sequence of characters in a name, and race and ethnicity using Long Short Term Memory Networks. Our out of sample (OOS) precision and recall for the full name model estimated on the Florida Voter Registration data is .83 and .84 respectively. This compares to OOS precision and recall of .79 and .81 for the last name only model. Commensurate numbers for Wikipedia data are .73 and .73 for the full name model and .66 and .67 for the last name model. To illustrate the use of this method, we apply our method to the campaign finance data to estimate the share of donations made by people of various racial groups.


page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4


Race and ethnicity data for first, middle, and last names

We provide the largest compiled publicly available dictionaries of first...

raceBERT – A Transformer-based Model for Predicting Race and Ethnicity from Names

This paper presents raceBERT – a transformer-based model for predicting ...

Can We Trust Race Prediction?

In the absence of sensitive race and ethnicity data, researchers, regula...

Rethnicity: Predicting Ethnicity from Names

I provide an R package, , for predicting ethnicity from names. I use the...

A Note on the Misinterpretation of the US Census Re-identification Attack

In 2018, the US Census Bureau designed a new data reconstruction and re-...

Avoiding bias when inferring race using name-based approaches

Racial disparity in academia is a widely acknowledged problem. The quant...

BISG: When inferring race or ethnicity, does it matter that people often live near their relatives?

Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding (BISG) is a ubiquitous tool for pred...

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset