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The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) collects information on victimization characteristics, including race and ethnicity. Since 2003, two questions on the NCVS obtain information on the respondent's race and Hispanic origin: (1) whether the respondent is of Hispanic origin, and (2) which race or races they identify with. Respondents may choose white; black or African American; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander; or other race. Respondents who select other race are asked to specify their race. More than one race may be selected.

Prior to 2003, respondents to the NCVS were asked to identify the racial group they identified with, including white; black; American Indian, Aleut, or Eskimo; Asian or Pacific Islander; or other race. Respondents who selected other race were not able to specify a race for the NCVS. They were also not able to select more than one racial group. After respondents were asked the question on race, they were asked if they were of their Hispanic origin or ethnicity. Caution is warranted when examining race over time because the racial categories were changed in the 2003 NCVS.

Most reports present findings on race and ethnicity separately. Other reports show results for combined racial or ethnic categories (i.e., white, non-Hispanic; black or African American, non-Hispanic; Hispanic or Latino).

Terms & Definitions


A classification based on Hispanic culture and origin, regardless of race. Persons are asked directly if they are Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino before being asked about their racial category.


A person who describes himself or herself as Mexican American, Chicano, Mexican, Mexicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American, South American, or from some other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.


Persons who report their culture or origin as something other than "Hispanic" as defined above. This distinction is made regardless of race.


For the National Crime Victimization Survey, respondents self identify with one or more racial categories. Racial categories defined by the Office of Management and Budget are American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; black or African American; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; and white. The race of the head of household is used in determining the race of the household for computing household crime demographics.
Date Created: February 18, 2021