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DNA Tests May Have Influenced Census

The rise in direct-to-consumer genetic testing may have influenced how people responded to the US census, NPR reports.

It adds that there has been a 276 percent increase in the number of people who selected more than one racial or ethnic category to describe themselves on the 2020 census. This jump, NPR says, is in part due to more children being born to individuals who identify as belonging to different races but may also be in part attributed to genetic ancestry tests.

A June study in the journal Demography, it notes, found that people who took a genetic ancestry test were more likely to identify as multiracial. This may reflect a shift in how people understand the construct of race, moving from recent family and personal history to genetic ancestry, study author Sasha Shen Johfre tells NPR.

"The public has kind of taken in the notion that you can find out 'who you are' with a test that's supposed to analyze your genes," Rice University's Jenifer Bratter adds there. "What that does for anyone who does work in racial identity and racial demography is cause us to think through how genetic ideas of race are in public circulation."