Efforts to estimate various sociodemographic variables in small geographic areas are proving difficult with the replacement of the Census long-form with the American Community Survey (ACS). Researchers interested in subnational demographic processes have previously relied on Census 2000 long-form data products in order to answer research questions. ACS data products promise to begin providing up-to-date profiles of the nation’s population and economy; however, unit- and item-level nonresponse in the ACS have left researchers with gaps in subnational coverage resulting in unstable and unreliable estimates for basic demographic measures. Borrowing information from neighboring areas and across time with a spatiotemporal smoothing process based on Bayesian statistical methods, it is possible to generate more stable and accurate estimates of rates for geographic areas not represented in the ACS. This research evaluates this spatiotemporal smoothing process in its ability to derive estimates of poverty rates at the county level for the contiguous United States. These estimates are then compared to more traditional estimates produced by the US Census Bureau, and comparisons between the two methods of estimation are carried out to evaluate the practical application of this smoothing method. Our findings suggest that by using available data from the ACS only, we are able to recreate temporal and spatial patterns of poverty in US counties even in years where data are sparse. Results show that the Bayesian methodology strongly agrees with the estimates produced by the SAIPE program, even in years with little data. This methodology can be expanded to other demographic and socioeconomic data with ease.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 13, 2013
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