The housing unit (HU) method—in which population estimates are derived from estimates of occupied HUs—is the most commonly used method for making small-area population estimates in the United States. It is widely used because it is conceptually simple, can utilize a wide variety of data sources, can be applied at virtually any level of geography, and often produces reliable estimates. Yet the HU method is more nearly a general approach to population estimation than it is a specific methodology. In this paper, we describe and evaluate several data sources and estimation techniques that can be used in applying the HU method. Using a set of county and subcounty estimates produced by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Florida for April 1, 2010, we analyze errors by population size and growth rate, calculate errors for each of the three components of the HU method, and investigate the accuracy of estimates based on several different data sources and estimation techniques. We compare the accuracy of the 2010 estimates with previous BEBR estimates and estimates produced by the U.S. Census Bureau. We conclude that although some data sources and estimation techniques work better than others, the HU method can be tailored to produce reliable population estimates for a wide variety of geographic areas.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 11, 2013
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