The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, growing over four times faster than the total population. Despite this tremendous growth, it is one of the most understudied racial groups in the country, both in terms of government data collection and private polling.

Many polls and surveys provide only one checkbox to represent all Asian-American people, even though more than 20 different Asian ethnic groups live in the United States. And this has wide-ranging consequences for everything from medicine to voting patterns.

When it comes to health, it wasn’t until researchers analyzed disaggregated data — data sorted into smaller ethnicity categories — that they found that breast cancer is a more prevalent cause of death for Asian Indian and Filipino women than Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese populations. In politics, 6 in 10 Asian Americans identify as or lean towards the Democratic Party. When looking at the disaggregated data, however, researchers found that Vietnamese Americans are the exception, with the majority voting in line with the Republican Party. This increased understanding of the AAPI community can inform policy decisions that have historically ignored whole ethnic groups by lumping all Asian Americans into one category.

But that may be about to change. The federal government announced in March that it had updated its race and ethnicity standards in response to “large societal, political, economic and demographic shifts in the United States,” according to the Office of Management and Budget. Within five years, all federal agencies that collect demographic data will be required to start collecting more detailed race and ethnicity information beyond the current minimum categories, which represent the six largest Asian population groups in the U.S.: Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese.

“If you collect data with just the Asian checkbox, you’re not really understanding the diversity in the community and outcomes ranging from poverty, health, education, housing and so many things,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, the founder and executive director of AAPI Data. “We just scored a major win.”

Read the full article about AAPI race and ethnicity data by Mariel Padilla at The19th.