Academic journal article International Journal of Population Research

Assessing Net Coverage for Young Children in the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census

Academic journal article International Journal of Population Research

Assessing Net Coverage for Young Children in the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census

Article excerpt

Academic Editor:Kathryn Kost

1, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 4228 Red Bandana Way, Ellicott City, MD 21042, USA

Received 8 July 2014; Accepted 21 October 2014; 18 November 2014

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Introduction

A high net undercount of young children has been documented historically in the U.S. Decennial Census and a high net undercount of children has been experienced in societies as varied as China, South Africa, Laos, and the former Soviet Union [1-7]. There is also evidence that young children are underreported in some of the U.S. Census Bureau's major surveys [8].

Previous research on the quality of the data from the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census [9-11] provides limited data on the net coverage rate for children but provides little detail and no ideas about why young children have such a high net undercount in the Census. This study extends the stream of research regarding the net undercount of children by providing a detailed examination of net undercounts and overcounts of children (population aged 0 to 17) in the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census. In particular, the net coverage of young children is contrasted to that of adults and older children in this study.

The analysis presented here rests largely on the results of the U.S. Census Bureau's Demographic Analysis (DA) method for assessing Census accuracy. The reasons for focusing on the results of Demographic Analysis rather than the U.S. Census Bureau's Dual-System Estimates results are explained later in the paper.

After providing background on the Demographic Analysis (DA) estimation methodology, DA estimates for children are compared to the 2010 Decennial Census counts to detect net undercounts and overcounts. Following a brief overview of historical trends, results are examined by single-year of age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin for the child population. That leads to a focus on the population aged 0 to 4 where the net undercount rate is the highest. Finally, the importance of focusing on age differentials and some ideas about potential explanations for the high net undercount of young children are discussed.

2. Demographic Analysis History and Methodology

Assessing the net undercounts in the U.S. Decennial Census is typically based on one of two methods: (1) Demographic Analysis (DA) and/or (2) Dual System Estimates (DSE). This study focuses on the results of DA for reasons that will be explained later in this section. Since there are already several detailed descriptions of the DA methodology available, I will only review the method briefly here [12-14].

The DA method has been used to assess the accuracy of decennial census figures for more than a half century and its origins are often traced back to an article by Price [15]. The unexpectedly high number of young men who turned up at the first compulsory selective service registration on October 6, 1940, alerted scholars to the possibility of underenumeration in the 1940 Decennial Census. The selective service data also provided an independent population estimate for assessing the size of such underenumeration in the Decennial Census.

The relatively high net undercount among young children was uncovered early in the history of DA. In one of the first systematic efforts to use DA to examine decennial census results, Coale [16] found that children aged 0 to 4 had a relatively high net undercount rate in the censuses of 1940 and 1950. Siegel and Zelnik [17] also found a significant net undercount of children aged 0 to 4 in the 1950 and 1960 Decennial Censuses. Coale and Zelnick [18] found high net undercount rates for young children in the Decennial Censuses as far back as 1880. Coale and Rives [19] found very high undercount rates for young black children in every Decennial Census from 1880 to 1970. …

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