Race as a Multistate Process

Jeronimo O. Muniz, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG)
Aliya Saperstein, Stanford University
Bernardo L. Queiroz, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Although the existence of racial fluidity in Brazil is generally accepted, changes in racial classification over the life course are not often incorporated into standard demographic estimates. We calculate multistate life tables by drawing on linked data from the largest Brazilian household survey (2017-2019 PNAD-C) to estimate transition probabilities between the White, Brown and Black race categories, which we combine with age and race-specific probabilities of dying. This allows us to ask and answer a series of unconventional questions: How long could one expect to live in a given race? At what ages are transitions between races more likely to occur? How many years can someone born as White, Brown, or Black expect to live in another race? Most surprisingly, our conditional life expectancy estimates show that Brazilians who were born as Black could expect to live almost 15 years of their lives as White, while those who were born White could expect to live as Black for 3 years, on average. The results both provide important new evidence on the scope of racial fluidity in contemporary Brazil and demonstrate the feasibility of accounting for that fluidity in traditional demographic analysis.

Keywords: Multiregional demography, Culture, ethnicity, race, religion and language, Mortality, Life course analysis

See paper.

  Presented in Session 121. Approaches to Life Course Research