The Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding (BISG), is used by the CFPB to determine race and ethnicity proxies. In recent years the algorithm has been used to determine alleged discrimination at auto finance companies, including an $80 million dollar fine for a well-known bank. This method is far from perfect. For example, someone’s ascribed probabilities can change due to marriage or change of residence.

I created the prototype of a calculator using R/Shinydashboard available at https://pabdndiaye.shinyapps.io/bisg_shiny/ for readers to play with. It takes as inputs: ‘name’ and ‘zip code’ and ascribes the probabilities of that person being of various races and ethnicities using the Bayes rule.