Following every U.S. decennial census since 1960, the U.S. Census Bureau has evaluated the completeness of coverage using two different methods. Demographic analysis (DA) compares the census counts to a set of independent population estimates to infer coverage differences by age, sex, and race. The survey-based approach (also called dual system estimation or DSE) provides coverage estimates based on matching data from a post-enumeration survey to census records. This paper reviews the fundamentals of the two methodological approaches and then initially examines the results of these two methods for the 2010 decennial census in terms of consistency and inconsistency for age groups. The authors find that the two methods produce relatively consistent results for all age groups, except for young children. Consequently, the paper focuses on the results for children. Results of the 1990, 2000, and 2010 decennial censuses are shown for the overall population in this age group and by demographic detail (age, race, and Hispanic origin). Among children, the DA and DSE results are most inconsistent for the population aged 0–4 and most consistent for ages 10–17. Results also show that DA and DSE are more consistent for Black than non-Black populations. The authors discuss possible explanations for the differences in the two methods for young children and conclude that the DSE approach may underestimate the net undercount of young children due to correlation bias.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: May 24, 2016
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